Jonathan Adolphe‘s mixed media portraits are a hybrid of painting and photography that address the profound effects of memory and absence. Using powdered graphite, wax, enamel and oil paint, Adolphe creates an atmospheric space, a distance between us and the image, that forces us to find a meaning in the gestures, the face, to find out, work out what’s going on. It is a silence made visual. An ongoing question that we are left to answer. His portraits are so evocative, have a deep yearning, for what we shall never know. What we do know however is that these enigmatic portraits are charged with an emotional depth and are beautiful to look at, to contemplate.
Adolphe has this to say about his process and why he veils his portraits in mystery:
For me, the art that elicits the strongest response calls on the viewer to try to fathom the artist’s intention. When the message is just on the tip of your tongue, you can almost put it into words; almost grasp it. It keeps you looking. I used to have a dream about painting that I took from Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers On A Train’. The villain – protagonist has dropped his incriminating evidence, the cigarette lighter, down a storm drain beneath the street. It is on a ledge just barely out of his reach. In close up, his fingers can be seen scraping the smooth, shiny surface of the lighter but he can’t quite grasp it, can’t possess it. He must try again and again. Thats the process of painting for me.
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