When we are young, we are often asked in school to draw our family. The way we do so says rather a lot about the perception we have of reality, how we see ourselves and how we see others. We have to carefully choose just a couple of characteristics to represent them.
A portrait is much more than the illustration of a person’s physical appearance. A good artist can depict one’s soul. It is said that king Phillip IV of Spain, at the end of his life, was reluctant to be painted by Velázquez, as he would capture the sadness in his eyes. Likewise, some indigenous people are even afraid of having their picture taken, as they believe it could steal their being.
Sometimes, I argue with a friend who states that History and Politics are far more useful than art. He does not seem to realise that through art, one can learn so much about human reality. For instance, what sort of portraits of himself did Henry IV of France wanted, or how did Stalin use his self-image as a propaganda method. In a way, political ideas are hidden in portraits.
The artist tells a story when he or she makes a portrait, whether it is of himself or someone else.
How many selfies have you taken today? And why?