In 1948, Alberto Giacometti exhibited in New York with a controversial body of work; consisting of portraits, both drawn and in sculptural form, and accompanied by an essay by Jean Paul Satre, ‘The Search for the Absolute.’
The work was, as later described in ‘Art since 1940: Strategies of Being’, by Jonathan Finsberg as being,
‘not driven by the aesthetic objectives of an envisioned finished composition, but by a need to discover reality in the process of working.’
This year, 69 Smith Street Gallery’s annual ‘Likeness’ portrait exhibition challenges the artist to consider the process behind the portrait, in the development of the ideas and production of the image.
Whether of the self or another individual, the main aim is to achieve an authenticity of execution, potentially enabling the viewer to gain an insight into the process behind the piece, through, for example, pure mark-making, embellished surface treatment or complex construction.
Giacometti was also concerned with the viewer’s role, their subjective experience adding an extra layer of ‘process’ and, in this way, being as important as the artist’s own methods and concepts.
This authentic approach in the pursuit of ‘reality’, whether conceptually or figuratively, will obviously relate to the individual artist, as well as the individual subject, and could lead to some unexpected results!