Through another medium – Inspiring people
“I have just begun a new period in my work.
Painting is a long journey. I have been painting seriously for almost 7 years – not counting my childhood and teenagerhood experimentation – and I now have the feeling that I have found a subject I intend to explore, which is portait.
Thus, I am now focusing on the complicated exercise of portrait, particularly through a series of celebrities’ portraits I have started with actress Sophie Turner and burlesque performer Dita von Teese. The third protagonist of this series is the incredible actor and true artist Johnny Depp. I continued this series with joyful actress Julia Roberts and immense actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio. The sixth and seventh paintings of the series are portraits of the very talented singers Rihanna and Katy Perry. I almost always use photo calls photos since celebrities are then promoting something.
I try to show faces easily recognizable by all, yet unknown at the intimate level and to bring a new look on those people that in general only appear to us through a screen or from afar on a stage. Would our (unilateral) relation to these celebrities be different if we met them in person?
In this series called Through another medium, I try to share my vision of these people – the celebrities – for once through the pictorial medium, under the painting’s touches and under the painter’s (my) look, instead of through an HD screen or a smartphone’s one.
And if people from different parts of the world see my work through Internet, then the men and women represented will be seen through a double filter: the painting and the screen. This is something we often forget: the difference between seeing an artwork in real and through a photo, printed or online. We all know the masterpieces of painting, but we haven’t all seen them in real in museums.
In some of the paintings of this series, the use of collage allows me to insist on the fact that the painting (as well as the photo on which it is based) is a 2D image representing a real person whose intimacy is unknown, despite his/her public existence. The collage often comes from wallpaper, that is as much part of our everyday life as those celebrities. The collage pieces can be unpainted and contrast frankly with the rest of the portrait showing volume, or used, under the painting, as filigree that add layers – as filters – to the image. My inspiration here is the French artist Jacques Villeglé, who used lacerated street posters in order to create popular artworks. I use printed images to contrast with painted popular celebrities. I am also inspired by the Nouveau réalisme (new realism) movement and its ideas to bring art and life closer by using mainstream culture’s elements as a source of inspiration that can be included in artworks.
The subtitle of this series is Inspiring people. This series also has another purpose: I choose to portrait celebrities that I find inspiring, for different reasons, such as personifying creativity and extravagance, speaking about ideas that I value, encouraging self-acceptance, etc. Fame is a form of oligarchy that has always got the privilege of painting, but I prefer the term intelligentsia that emphasizes the power of music/TV/cinema/entertainment artists to promote creativity. Showing them through the medium of painting is also trying to give back to painting its original role that has today been taken by photography, and which in the past has always been representation and testimony of important people.
Ernest Pignon-Ernest is also an artist that inspires me a lot, particularly with his work of testimony of the Neapolitan life (1988-1995) during which he plastered real-size drawings of everyday scenes on the streets of Naples. My series of portraits aims to testify of dominant culture’s representatives who are celebrities, using the technique of acrylics portraits displayed on digital walls and art galleries walls.
Finally, perhaps I also try to encourage people to get more interested in art and painting by associating them with the mainstream culture, as Pop art tried to free art from its elitist image.
To be continued…”
Sarah Anthony, 2019
2 portraits of this series, Dita von Teese and Julia Roberts have been exhibited at the Grand Palais, Paris during a major international art fair in February 2020.
Another one, David Bowie, is currently exhibited in Galerie Thuillier, Paris, until July 2nd.
In 2019, Sarah was in contact with immense art curator David Galloway (chief curator of Tehran Museum of Contemporary art, created by Farah Pahlavi, Empress consort of Iran in 1977). He had the kindness to have a look at Sarah’s series of celebrities’ portraits, which he found “interesting”. A meeting in January 2020 was planned in order to discuss about her art, unfortunately, mister Galloway died in late december 2019 and the encounter could never happen. However, the artist will remember mister Galloway’s kindness and considers his interest in her art as a priceless honor and encouragement.
“Epoustouflante Sophie” means “Stunning Sophie”. This portrait represents Sophie Turner, young British actress famous for playing in Game of Thrones and Dark Phoenix. For these two roles, she is shown as a red-haired, though her real hair color is blonde. I chose to portrait her because as a teenager, she was thrown in front of the media stage and didn’t get the chance to grow up as every kid. She later developed an eating disorder and depression because of the public pressure put on her teenager’s body and mind. With the years, she managed to overpass critics and live her life to the fullest. She got married on July 29th 2019 in Provence, France, not far from where I live.
This painting is a way to show her as she really is: a young woman, a young bride, not only a movie and TV star. Finally, both Sansa Stark and Jean Grey are powerful female characters, and so is Sophie Turner, and I think it is a stunning achievement for such a young actress.
Dita von Teese is a very, special and unique woman. It makes no doubt that she is the best of the world in her practice field: what us French people chastely call “effeuillage” (burlesque stripping) and she is also the mistress of controlling her own image, which is always extremely sophisticated, as well as glamorous. She is the Green Fairy because, she truly is a magician from the past, revolutionizing a prohibited but yet exquisite universe.
I did this portrait because she inspires me a lot: being so extravagant and meanwhile so successful makes me believe it is allowed to be eccentric and different these days, which isn’t that obvious considering that many people made it clear that my creativity had to be a leisure, or silenced. I am considering focusing on Dita von Teese on a parallel series since she inspires me most and is also the embodiment and quintessence of expressing one’s creativity and extravagance. Her commitment to glamorous also made the exercise of painting her a delight. I guess painting her was my way to pay tribute to her and the testimony of my admiration. It shows how positively she has influenced my life as a woman and an artist.
But I also did it because I found very interesting to represent in painting an image that has been thought for both printed and digital display. What do you think of the result in painting? Doesn’t it bring back this modern days retro-lover icon to the past, when pin-up girls where painted? For this portrait, I made an exception and chose an image that doesn’t come from a photo call.
Three filigree are hidden in her hair, three as well are visible in the background, one on her right arm, and finally, the bra is an unpainted collage.
This painting has been selected to be exhibited at the Grand Palais, in Paris, during an Art Fair in February 2020 (from the 11th to the 16th), at the side of my portrait of Julia Roberts.
Art evolves with its time. Thanks to social media, I have been able to know that Dita von Teese herself has liked my portrait of her… What an honor!
My instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarah_anthony_artist/
I hope one day I’ll be able to know the opinion of all the celebrities I have painted about their portrait.
The choice of Johnny Depp was extremely easy, since he has been my everlasting idol, a true artist, a very talented actor and an eccentric person, often calling his sex-symbol status in question, and never using it, even refusing roles that were too mainstream. And despite all this, he is and has been part of the mainstream culture and the mass media. He is also the reason why I am painter: as a teenager, I drew a lot but wanted to try something new. As a fan, I saw this photo of Johnny Depp painting Vanessa Paradis and decided to try acrylics… I never stopped.
I painted him in October 2019, using a very recent photograph, showing him aged 56. Despite the years passing and the difficulties of life, he remains this incredibly creative person, aging well and remaining himself, as a rock (star) in the middle of a sea storm.
The collar of Johnny Depp’s blazer is a collage that tries to pay tribute to Mr. Depp’s creative sense of style. The background of this painting is abstract and with some parts slightly in volume. While focusing on portrait, I don’t forget my interest in abstract shapes and colors. This abstract background aims to show the inner creative wealth of Johnny Depp and makes a contrast with the realism of the face and body.
It was an easy choice for me to paint Julia Roberts: she’s simply a woman I adore. Thanks to her films, she always manages to give me back my smile when I feel blue, and I am sure many people share my experience.
She is, among other qualities, precisely known for her smile, big and sunny, that’s why I couldn’t paint her without it and painting it, I realized I could correct my mistakes without even looking at the photos since I know it by heart.
I was so young when I first saw her in a movie that I don’t even remember it and that it seems to me that she has always existed, this smiley and joyful actress.
In fact, Julia Roberts, in my eyes, is a true entertainer. A real artist who can capture and convey emotions in the fairest possible manner. This woman was born to act and she has fulfilled and keeps fulfilling her destiny as few people do.
I added collage: a wallpaper piece that I painted in vivid colors, trying to represent in abstract shapes and hues the “Julia Roberts effect” in a movie (a kind of feel-good impression).
I destined this painting to an Art Fair that occured at the Grand Palais, in Paris from the 11th to the 16th of February 2020, at the side of my Dita von Teese painting. It was required that one of this painting be little, so I painted this Julia Roberts portrait with an artistic constraint that was the size: circa 10.2 x 7.8 inches (26 x 20 cm). I had never painted a realistic face so small and I was afraid to fail, but I am so happy with the result that remains detailed. Even in a small portrait, Julia Roberts’ smile is big and cheerful! I don’t know why, but something in this wee painting reminds me of James Rosenquist’s work.
I chose to paint Leonardo DiCaprio because he has always been an actor that inspired me. His rigor, his extreme and unfailing accuracy in acting, his perseverance, his commitment to environment (through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) are reasons that make me believe he is a good man and a model to follow. The night he was rewarded with Best Actor at the Academy Awards ceremony, he started his speech by thanking all the people that believed in him and allowed him to arrive where he is today, but then, he pursued by speaking of our planet and of the climatic and environmental problem, which was, to me, impressive.
He ended his speech by these sentences from which I entitled this painting and that I find inspiring: “Let us not take our planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted”.
Rihanna is an inspiring woman, extremely creative, always reinventing herself. As an artist, it is enriching to follow all the looks she has created throughout the years: every hairstyle, outfits seem to suit her. Her persona has allowed me to paint a very vivid portrait, with an alien dress, decorated dreadlocks and an abstract background. I allowed myself to use bright pink on her dress thanks to her warm golden skin. Rihanna’s behavior also was one of the reasons why I wanted to paint her: she is assertive, she has repartee, she is a free and strong woman, an artist as well as a businesswoman, with a very powerful, unique and easily recognizable voice.
I portrayed her with dreadlocks because she has been seen and photographed with those and I think they suit her a lot and I like the fact that she embraces her African and Caribbean legacy and emphasizes her attachment to her home island of Barbados.
In this painting, I tried to create a contrast between abstract and figurative art: Rihanna’s skin, face and hair are very realistic and detailed, whereas the gown becomes a flat surface for abstract painting, colorful shapes, collage pieces as well as gold, silver and copper leaves. In this painting, my attachment to golden colors can be seen. All these elements could be put together in a Rihanna portrait because she is herself a very creative and daring woman. All those qualities made me name the painting Rihanna, the Lady.
Californian singer Katy Perry is my 7th portrait, and probably the most accomplished. I decided on a head painting portraying an expression, that will, I hope, make people wonder: “What is she thinking about?”.
I also tried to apply strokes on my canvas with my paintbrush, in order to avoid any brush trace and to have the smoothest result. The choice of the hair color may surprise because many people imagine Katy Perry with black hair, as in her debut, but her real hair color and the one she has been having for several years now is blonde and I try to paint my models as they look at the moment I paint them. The hair shape was derived from Katy Perry’s recent hairdo and not based on a specific photograph. It was quite a work of imagination to represent the curls and the highlights. I like the fact that it looks intemporal, both retro and modern.
The golden background was not a decision on the spur of the moment. Like the gold leaf, it popped into my mind ever since I started thinking of a Katy Perry portrait. I guess this very bright, warm and unusual color suits well this very lively performer from a sunny state (which also explains the title).
Katy Perry was on my list (of portraits to paint) from the beginning. I’ve liked her and her music from the beginning, from the very first single that was played on French radios, which was I Kissed A Girl, in 2008, when I was 16. Ever since, I’ve adored her artistic, funny and colorful songs and music videos, her recognizable contralto voice that is absolutely unique among nowadays female performers, her extravagant style. Every appearance of this woman is a source of inspiration. Through her music, she shares her vision of life, full of color, art, sun, fun, dreams, happiness, and of “everything is possible”.
I have been an admirer of David Bowie for about ten years, from the end of my teenagehood. This man managed to make me understand and gave me the feeling that it was okay to be eccentric and even valuable.
I will always remember the day he died because I couldn’t believe it, it was so sudden, he was young and I was sure I would see him perform someday. No one equals David Bowie, who has pushed far away the limits of what it means to be an artist.
Among my idols, he is the only one whose music is so eclectic and has been released during various decades starting in the sixties. To me, he is such an impressive man. When he died, my father even told me that he had been impressed by how savant he seemed when he spoke.
8th of my Through another medium – Inspiring people star series, he is also the most well done. I have tried to create a contrast between the realism of the skin, face and hair, and the abstract shapes of the vest, the hand playing the role of an in-between, a bond. The white dots can be seen as stars. What else to dress this “Starman“, this “Ziggy Stardust” on a “Space Oddity” ?
I took great pleasure in painting his iconic, unique, mismatched eyes, his beautiful aquiline nose and golden hair, as well as reinventing his emblematic red and blue lightning bolt from Aladdin Sane‘s cover. My point was not to paint only a realistic portrait of David Bowie but also to be able to express who and what were David Bowie’s music, art and identity.
This painting has been exhibited in Paris, in Galerie Thuillier, from June 19th to July 2nd 2020. It was visible 13 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris. Vernissage: June 23rd, from 4 to 9 pm.
I decided to paint a second painting of David Bowie, called Spirit Bowie. I painted him in a more expressive, less realistic way.
These two painting are currently exhibited in Le Puy-en-Velay, France, during the 41st International Art Fair of Haute-Loire, to which I have been invited to exhibit, following my participation to the Art Capital Fair in Grand Palais, in February 2020.
Videos of my portraits on Youtube (more will come):