Pilar Fernandez Duarte’s intricate, delicate pen-on-canvas portraits remain mysterious despite her sharp and densely crosshatched details. Many of her subjects, from celebrities to infants, appear partially hidden behind masks, finely drawn strands of hair and other details or accessories. Generally, though, they fix the viewers’ gaze, communicating a playful comfort with their status as figures for aesthetic contemplation. By manipulating the terms of our encounter, the Spanish artist and Parsons graduate uses coquettish concealment to reveal even more about her subjects.
Done in a complex, not quite realist style – she cites the influences of Tamara Lempicka, and Alphonse Mucha – each meticulous drawing contributes to an elusive portrait of the artist behind it. Duarte explores role-play and dress-up in her works, with figures donning spectacular costumes and putting on theatrical airs. Other pieces have a more intimate, frank mode of address. Throughout, Duarte layers an astounding amount of visual information into each composition, always revealing only just enough, so that we never lose interest in her seductive subjects.