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Exploring portraiture at UCL Art Museum – Guest blog by artist Nadine Mahoney

KrisztinaLackoi7 June 2012

Prior to graduation from the Slade in 2011 I participated in the ‘Moreover’ exhibition, organised jointly by the Slade and UCL Art Museum. Having previously used digital imagery as reference, the time spent with the prints brought a new dimension to my work; I shifted away from linear representation to a more embodied depiction of form.

Three portraits from the Anon series, 2011

Anon 14, Anon 4, Anon 3

The research focused on ‘anonymous, untitled’ prints, which inspired a body of work called ANON – a series of monotypes, each a unique original print, that explore identity within portraiture. Having gained so much from this period of study, in September 2011  I proposed to develop the project further. By expanding the search to include all forms of portraiture, the research would involve a wider exploration of the formal, conceptual and aesthetic qualities of the genre.

A portrait by Rembrandt examined through a magnifying glass

Looking at Rembrandt

Normally, prints are identified through the catalogue system, through a search for a particular artists or keyword. However, rather than search through the database for ‘portrait’ as a title, the idea was to open every archive box searching for portraits.

This also allowed a closer insight into the both the collection and museum’s archive system. Each time a box was opened there was a sense of excitement, with prints several centuries apart in the same box.  The experience of viewing the prints and drawings on easels has been a focal point of this experience.

John Flaxman's drawings displayed on easels during a research visit

Research in action – John Flaxman’s drawings displayed on easels

The sense of size, scale and material are often lost in documentation and I gained so much from observing this first hand. Back in the studio scale has been a central theme with the new paintings. A body of work in response to the research has started to take shape;  some are transcriptions of a specific print, whilst others are a wider response to the collection and modes of museum cataloguing.

20 portraits from the Art Museum's collections pasted on the walls of the artist's studio20 drawings of men wearing wigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio Wall (wigs galore) and Wig Drawings

Images courtesy of the artist and Hoxton Art Gallery.

www.nadinemahoney.co.uk