We are pleased to present this group exhibition, which is a continuation of the show Still Life: An Ongoing Story that took place at the gallery in 2019. Bringing together works by classical masters, pieces from private collections, and works by the gallery's artists, it offers a look at portraiture as a genre and highlights its importance in art history.
The history of portraiture probably goes back to prehistoric times and crosses the great civilizations and continents to be anchored in the history of European art in the 15th century (Italy, Flanders). The genre was recognized in the 16th century and expressed itself mainly as court art until the 18th century, when the choice of subjects, sponsors and issues was significantly broadened.
Since then, the appropriation and detour of the genre and the exploitation of its psychological or symbolic expressive properties have never ceased, especially after the appearance of photography, which profoundly redefined the stakes and tools of portrait representation and thus opened an infinite playground to all modern and contemporary currents, both in its use and in its pictorial competition.
The portrait (and the self-portrait) remains an unparalleled tool of introspection. Beyond its vocation to put forward or denounce attributes and socio-economic-political symbols, it is above all a frontal and direct bias, an exchange of glance which obliges us. It is a posture engaged in observing the same or another. The other who resembles us, horrifies us, bewitches us, worries us, invites us... They are us, and we are them in all cases.
“And yet when I looked upon that ugly idol in the glass, I was conscious of no repugnance, rather of a leap of welcome. This, too, was myself.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.