Daring Portraits

Would you like to have a daring portrait of yourself?

A daring portrait is one that does away with the intent to please or offer one's nice and beaming side to the world. This is of course the goal of any serious portraitist.  In contrast to the typical smiling selfie or usual facebook image, a daring portrait is an attempt to reach deeper into some true element of our physiognomy and posture.  We say "look yourself in the mirror!", meaning that one should see oneself without disguises or wishful thinking.  The mirroring offered by a serious artist goes beyond that, disclosing new aspects that may enrich our sense of self.  A daring portrait requires a readiness for self-confrontation, but it may also fill us with a new pride.       

 

The human figure, and especially faces, have always been the main focus of Noam Omer's art.  In the first years of his artistic activity he was completely obsessed with faces.  For years he would paint only faces, dozens of faces each day, in a furious attempt to discover, understand and decrypt, finding the lines, shades, and texture of a person's features so as to answer the overwhelming question: "Who is there?"  His first individual exhibiton was made of faces-faces-faces.  He filled the walls and wanted to fill also the ceiling with faces.  At a certain point he considered putting a mirror on the ground to reflect the faces above.  

 

He was intrigued by the obsession with faces of the artists he admired most, especially Freud, Auerbach, Kossoff and Bacon.  For many years he studied their portraits systematically, trying to understand their attitude and search.  He looked repeatedly at films showing those masters at work.  He was captivated by Giacometti's pedantry, in having his models sit in exactly the same position and with the same expression for months on end, drawing and redrawing the picture again and again.  When asked what he was looking for, Giacometti answered "An exit! There must be an exit!",  which Omer interpreted as meaning "An entrance!  There must be an entrance!"  

 

Omer's approach to portraits got a new angle during the coronavirus confinement when, for many, isolation became an inescapable condition.  People were confronted with themselves with a deeper intensity, as they couldn't find relief and distraction in social amenities. Even for those who were confined with their family members, the constraints of imposed intimacy may have brought a new image of themselves. Those were the circumstances in which Omer started creating representations of a person's face and body which were built out of a dialogue between the individual's serious photos of him or herself and the artist's ability to capture emotions and deep personal attitudes out of their physiognomy and bodily stance. When the restrictions were gradually lifted, he started meeting with some of the models, making his own photos of them in person.  He worked also with distant models, with whom he could not meet in person.  Omer does not think that his own photos are better or even more suited to his daring portraits.  Sometimes the person sent him photos made by him/herself, a friend or a relative, which served the purpose perfectly.

So, the construction of Omer's daring portrait eliminates the "normal" situation in which the person to be portrayed sits as a model for the artist.  The digital image takes its place.  This situation, which was partly enforced by the coronavirus confinement opened a new possibility, which Omer uses systematically.  The question may arise, whether a digital image can convey the individual's presence like the immediate personal one.  The result is probably a new kind of representation, a variation of the portraiting tradition, which takes its starting point in photographs and gradually grows into a full-fledged work of art, a mixed media construction that is finalized in a high-quality paper print.

 

The interaction between the artist and the person being portrayed is not limited to the photographs.  A dialogue usually takes place, sometimes in person, sometimes by mail.    However, most of the "reading" is made directly out of the person's digital representations.  Omer sometimes prefers to talk and know less about his models.  The reason is that he feels speech may interfere, veiling, no less than revealing.

You are invited to see some recent examples in his gallery of daring portraits.  If you are interested by what you see, you may contact Noam Omer by mail at noamomer2@gmail.com or WhatsApp at +(972)544209908.  You may want to have the final print in relatively small dimensions (A2 paper size) or larger dimensions (100 cm. height and between 70 to 120 cm. width).  The print is of the highest quality, so that it is far more impressive than what you can see in your computer screen.  

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