What you see is not always what you get. This is something I have discovered with dating, and to be honest I don’t say that as a critique. I am not what I appear to be on first dates. I am a flirtier shade of me: I smile at all the right places even if I don’t find them funny, give enough but keep some back and ensure I am the most likable version of myself. The sum of what makes me is still the same, I am just different.
This is what the Abstract Portraits from Jack Smith reminded me when I visited the National Portrait Gallery. Instead of a true to life representation of the sitter’s appearance he depicts their personality through shapes, colours and symbolism to put to canvas what is in life. Identity is captured not as physical appearance but as a an ensemble of shapes.
The portraits show the likeness of composers Colin Matthews and Sir Harrison Birtwistle, choreographer Ashley Page, as well as a self portrait.
We are all portraits held together by the frames of our features. I wonder if we ever get to discover the full picture; only time will tell.