Colin Chillag’s portrait paintings are nearly complete but stop short – the intense detail and technical prowess of his painting seemingly unfinished – of a full portrait. However, when you think about his subjects and his painting process you’ll soon realise that he’s balancing two key ideas. The first is that traditional portrait painting has become forgotten due to the omnipresence of cheap digital technology.
Anyone can take a picture. We all make, take, portraits of people, friends, family everyday on our cameras, phones, etc and post them up online, print them, whatever. Therefore it’s critical that we re-examine the role of the portrait painter in this digital age. It goes without saying. And this is where Chillag’s second idea comes into play.
By only picking up on areas of his sitters faces he introduces us to them, makes us feel something for person, brings a humanity, a particularity to the sitter, while his use of the canvas as a palette gives us a sense of the painters process. Both practices inform us, the viewer, about the relationship between the painter and the subject.
Chillag’s process brings new light to a traditional practice, it breathes new life into the art of portraiture. It makes for wonderful compositions.