“The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
As long as there has been art, there has been portraiture. Portraits were originally reserved only for those who were regarded as important – religious figures, royalty, and nobility – and were meant to be in the exact likeness of the sitter. For many of us, these are the types of paintings that come to mind when someone mentions portraits. However, there is so much more to this personalized style of art. Whether a photograph, painting, drawing, or sculpture and regardless of artistic style, a portrait is just as much about the inner psyche of the sitter as it is about their physical appearance. That is why in contemporary art, it does not matter if you recognize the face that you are seeing. Instead, it is about relating to the overall essence of the image – the emanating emotion and energy.
Each of these Agora Gallery artists have used portraiture to represent not only a specific face, but a culture, a concept, or an idea.