Written by Record Pilot Staff Saturday, 21 June 2014 00:00
Hersh Fine Art, of the Long Island Academy of Fine Art, is holding a group exhibition of portraits by 23 artists, curated by Diana Corvelle and Manu Saluja, called Loved and Observed. The exhibit will be on view from June 21 until Aug. 12. The artists will be present for an opening on Saturday, June 28 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Artists Corvelle and Saluja bring together a dynamic collection of classically trained women whose approach to portraiture ranges from delicate to bold, traditional to nonconformist. A majority of the portraits included in the exhibition are of women. In 2009, artist Alia El-Bermani co-founded the online resource “Women Painting Women” expressly to promote contemporary figurative work of and by women. The intimacy apparent in El-Bermani’s tranquil "CaryAnn" hints at the depth and appeal of portraying female friendship. "Leah" by Elizabeth Adams-Jones and "Diana and the Beast" by Shauna Finn both stem
from friendships with fellow exhibiting artists (Leah Lopez and Diana Corvelle, respectively). Depicting women also offers female artists the opportunity to view themselves in a new light. Kay Ruane populates her intricate graphite and gouache interiors with predominantly solitary women beside panoramic picture windows, often as a way to indirectly explore her own identity and relationship to the world.
Another prevailing theme of Loved and Observed is the purposeful blend of traditional skill and contemporary aesthetic. As artist Nanci France-Vaz explains of her narrative portraits, “my paintings combine the lighting techniques of a cinematographer with the methods of the old masters.”
Women’s portraiture has long outgrown expected stereotypes, and the result is as unique as the artist/subject pairings themselves. Maria Teicher’s deftly rendered self-portrait, entitled "This Personal Pinnacle," shows a close-up of her face half covered in plastic wrap. The image may remind the viewer uncomfortably of suffocation and mortality, but as allegory it also recalls the broader and more relatable feeling of being trapped or overwhelmed. Clarity Haynes notes that her ongoing series "The Breast Portrait Project" is “a subversion of traditional purposes of portraiture.” Haynes’s striking, unidealized torsos of ordinary women honor the lives and experiences of her subjects, while also offering women an alternative standard of beauty and strength.