Self Portrait #12 (after Man Ray)
It’s been well over a month since Self Portrait #11. It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do exactly with this one, or at least to make the image in my mind into some kind of actual thing.
You may remember I posted a drawing the end of January on Selfie Day. That was from the first incarnation of this self portrait. I realized right away that an ink drawing was neither bold enough to go with the mask, nor close enough to Ray’s photographic image for what I wanted to do.
Ray, of course, means the photographed face and mask to echo each other. The first mask I chose to collage was actually inspired by a tiny photo I had of a ceramic mask; I didn’t know its origin but it was certainly made by a contemporary artist. Although I liked the mask, in the end I decided it wasn’t quite right; I would look for a mask from an anonymous artist from a traditional culture, as Ray had done. I did like watercolor for the actual portrait though.
I had cut the mask out from the first attempt and glued it onto to the second painting. For my third attempt I decided to do the painting and leave a blank space; I could do a separate mask, and “try it on” to see how I liked it. After looking at a lot of masks, I chose to use Hopi Kachinas as inspiration. Not that they look like me, but I felt an affiliation somehow. I made the mask, cut around the hand I had painted, and inserted it.
But what a great idea! I decided not to glue it down; I can make more masks as inspiration shows up, and keep changing this self portrait to reflect my current state of mind. So I guess Self Portrait #12 will never actually be “finished”.
And a few words about Man Ray. As he is so closely associated with Marcel Duchamp and the Dada movement, it seems appropriate to reference his work in the 100th year celebration of the beginning of Dada in Zurich. Born in Philadelphia, and raised in Brooklyn, Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921, and except for leaving Europe during WWII, lived there most of his life. He is primarily known as a photographer, having been introduced to the medium by Alfred Stieglitz. But he also drew and painted, worked in film, and created sculpture, collage, and assemblage, all with a strong sense of the absurd. This group of self-portraits will definitely be fun.
“The tricks of today are the truths of tomorrow”
You can see all the self portraits in this series here.