ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings
SELF-PORTRAITS WITH RINALDO
Dimensions: 74 x 84
Oil on linen
By Elizabeth Kay
Few dogs are likened to a summer’s day –
The grounds for such comparisons are slim;
But this one’s seen a miracle, the way
Two saints transplanted a redundant limb.1
He’s visited Arcadia, what’s more, 2
And had a confrontation with a swan.3
Fidelity reprinted with each paw,
This dog Rinaldo’s no ephemeron.
It’s apt that when an artist paints himself
He shares this living space with one true friend,
Who doesn’t give a fig for gold or pelf,
Who would, indeed, that very life defend.
As long as paint endures he’s codified,
And stays forever by his master’s side.
1 COSMAS & DAMIAN 1997
2 ET IN ARCADIA EGO 2000
3 RINALDO AND THE SWAN 1999
4 Self Portrait with Rinaldo 2009
Elizabeth Kay is an English writer. She is the author of The Divide trilogy, a series of children’s fantasy novels.
A self-portrait is a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist himself. Although self-portraits have been made by artists since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid 1400s that artists can be frequently identified depicting themselves as either the main subject, or as important characters in their work. With better and cheaper mirrors, and the advent of the panel portrait, many painters, sculptors and printmakers tried some form of self-portraiture. The probable example by Jan van Eyck of 1433 is the earliest known panel self-portrait.
André Durand has painted three only since 1964, preferring to paint himself as a character in one of his pictures, such as the reflection in Saint Georges’ shield from Sacred Conversation 2000.
Self-portraits have been a method of self-exploration since humans first gazed at their own reflection in a pool of water. With the invention of the mirror came an even stronger fascination to capture one’s likeness. And even within the past ten years, the public’s fascination with the way an artist sees him/herself has led to exhibitions like the National Self-Portrait Collection in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
Self-portraits, we have found, can be carefully staged to show the audience only what the artist wishes to project, or deeply revealing, inadvertently displaying feelings of anguish and pain. Self-portraits have been used to test new techniques, make a signature mark, launch into self-study, remember the past, and as a way to release emotion. Whichever way artists choose to construct their images, they are each forced to study their own personas both physically and emotionally.
What do artist’s find when they search the mirror? For some the self-portrait is cathartic experience, a letting go of pent-up emotions. For others, the process reveals new insights about themselves and their work. For all artists, the self-portrait is an exploration, an opportunity to see beyond the image in the mirror and begin to search into the soul.