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Painted Portraits: City/Self

The Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana is pleased to present the exhibition Painted Portraits: City/Self, featuring paintings by four local artists: Ashley Brossart, Carlos Gamez de Francisco, Sarah LaBarge and Thaniel Ion Lee. The artworks of these four painters give us the opportunity to experience and compare their unique approaches to portraiture and to view ourselves and the cities within which we live in a new light. Painted Portraits: City/Self will be on display August 10 through October 20, 2012.

We often think of a portrait as a physical likeness of a person, which has been an important subject matter for artists through the ages. However, a portrait can also be a visual impression of a person’s thoughts, personality and interests, which serve to create that person’s identity as much as, if not more than, his or her physical appearance. Sarah LaBarge explores the emotional states of her subjects and shows the resulting physical expressions in figurative paintings. About her work in Painted Portraits: City/Self, she writes, “My intention was to work with the figure in a more metaphorical way than usual, incorporating the surreal, and pushing the sense of an object as part of a portrait.” A resident of Kentuckiana, LaBarge is a working artist and writer and an associate member of PYRO Gallery in Louisville, KY (www.sarahlabarge.com).

Thaniel Ion Lee’s paintings, though they resemble surreal landscapes, express his own emotional and intellectual state as an individual, as the stream of consciousness style of writing provides a portrait of the author as much as the subject matter of the text. About the work in this exhibit, he writes, “I am a strong believer that one of the many roles of an artist is to bring the viewer outside of his/her everyday world by either creating new ideas or concepts for the viewer to climb into or by putting the viewer into the artist’s life by creating work that discusses the life of the artist.” Lee lives and works in New Albany, IN and has most recently exhibited at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany and Swanson Reed Contemporary in Louisville, KY (www.thanielionlee.com).

On the other hand, the subject of a portrait does not have to be a person. Many portraits of cities have been written, just as two of the artists in this exhibit create visual portraits of cities. The paintings of Ashley Brossart are inspired by her experiences and photographs of places. She uses her photography as a basis for painted portraits of the city. At times she combines various places into a single image as often happens in memory, as a way to explore the relationships between people and the city. About this exhibit, Brossart writes, “Through my work I explore the means that allow the image of the city to be captured in one’s mind to create the person’s place… Specific or vast, a person’s city becomes more about the interaction and reaction to places and space through experience and less about the city itself.” Brossart is a Louisville, KY native and her work is influenced by environments and the relationship of the person to the environment (www.orange-peeled.com).

After moving to Louisville from Holguin, Cuba, Carlos Gamez de Francisco began studying the Court of Louis the XVI of France, for whom Louisville was named in 1780, as a way of getting to know his new home city. This exploration resulted in several series of paintings of Louis XVI-era figures that represent the city’s link to its history and its namesake and also Francisco’s personal connections to both Cuba and Kentucky. About his work in Painted Portraits: City/Self, he writes, “My figures which seem to escape the laws of reason, of physics and biology, are only our alter egos… I’ve tried to demystify the reality around me.” Francisco’s work will be familiar to Louisville, KY area art enthusiasts; within the past few years he exhibited at both 21C Museum and the Muhammad Ali Center (www.carlosgamezdefrancisco.com).