Contemporary Portrature: Artist as Subject: KuBe Art Center
How do we make sense of Yayoi Kusama, Aboudia, Ida Applebroog and Yigal Ozeri splayed together on one wall? By re-orienting the artist as the subject.
BEACON, NY – The KuBe Art Center and Monira Foundation are proud to present Contemporary Portraiture: “Artist As Subject,” a significant exhibition with the participation of a number of prominent collections. On view at the KuBe Art Center October 23 – November 21, 2021, Artist as Subject is an exhibition that explores the rich diversity of how artists approach portrait making today.
How do we make sense of Yayoi Kusama, Aboudia, Ida Applebroog and Yigal Ozeri splayed together on one wall? By re-orienting the artist as the subject. By re-orienting the artist as a willing subject we can draw a likeness to the origins of painting - specifically the myth of Narcissus. The artist is transfixed by--and transfixes us via--their own vision as it appears upon a flat surface. The KuBe Art Center and Monira Foundation invite the public to contemplate the notion of portraiture as a quasi-distorted reflection of reality, the canvas as a mirror, the subject as reified by the gaze of the artist.
Contemporary Portraiture: Artist As Subject explores the rich diversity of artistic approaches in today's portraiture. Drawing from four collections: Eileen S. Kaminsky Collection, Doron Sebbag Collection, The Mana Collection, and Ethan Cohen Collection, co-curated by Ysabel Pinyol Blasi, Executive Director and curator of the Monira Foundation, and Ethan Cohen, Director of Ethan Cohen Gallery, and Founder of the KuBe Art Center, the show aims repositions portraiture as a context based and driven practice. The Mana Collection, contributing a rarely seen 20-minute film, Self Portrait (1980), by Jonas Mekas, the godfather of avant-garde cinema, offers 360° views of his face, with and without his hat, and speaks directly to the camera, describing his “personal, autobiographical, real-life” approach to filmmaking.
The Ethan Cohen Collection includes portraits by leading artists from China and Africa. Among the works on view, a highlight is a 1980 self-portrait by Yuan Yunsheng, depicting the artist seated, paint-spattered trousers crossed at the knee, arms folded behind his head, limbs jutting into each of the four corners of the canvas. His expression of subdued triumph would have been justified: just a year prior to the painting’s completion, Yuan had unveiled a mural, Water-Splashing Festival: An Ode to Life, that was heralded as a symbol of China’s new freedom from the aesthetic mores of the Cultural Revolution and its emergence into contemporaneity. The self-portrait, painted in oil, is one of the masterpieces of Contemporary Chinese Art of the 1980s. Pieces from the Ethan Cohen Collection also highlight works by leading Ivorian artist Aboudia that depict portraits of the street children of Abidjan. Among the leading African artists today, Aboudia takes inspiration from graffiti, tribal art, and from his own childhood growing up in poverty on the streets of Abidjan as a young street artist. His vivid paintings with vibrant strokes of color, elements of collage, and wordplay depict street scenes of his hometown and its children in his trademark ‘nouchi’ style.
Another segment of the exhibition contains works contributed by Eileen S. Kaminsky’s figure-based collection including Yayoi Kusama, Ida Applebroog and Yigal Ozeri. Israeli-born artist Yigal Ozeri's painted portraits of the Collection of Eileen S. Kaminsky artists, which are presented alongside figurative works by the hand of the subjects themselves. One vignette pairs Ozeri’s painting of George Condo with a drawing of a woman’s head, and links it to its stylistic antecedent, a drawing of a woman by Pablo Picasso. Condo’s admiration for the late Spaniard is evident both in the neo-Cubist paintings depicted in the background of Ozeri’s portrait and in the geometric similarities between the two drawings, from the rigid spindles of the figures’ eyelashes to their cuneiform noses. Ozeri’s portrait of Picasso is also included in the exhibition.
"Leon Battista Alberti famously linked the origins of painting to the myth of Narcissus: like the ill-fated youth, the artist is transfixed by--and transfixes us via--their own vision as it appears upon a flat surface. I invite the public to contemplate the notion of portraiture as a quasi-distorted reflection of reality, the canvas as a mirror, the subject as reified by the gaze of the artist." ––Ysabel Pinyol Blasi, Curator and Executive Director of the Monira Foundation
The Blue Noses
Frederic Bruly Bouabre
Hannah van Bart
Jeffrey Spencer Hargrave
Lara Birgit Kamhi
Pan Xing Lei
Peng Yu and Sun Yuan