Russia American artist, Igor Melnivok, challenges traditional associations with portraiture through his haunting paintings of emotionally ambiguous children isolated on a dark background. Although he often bases his paintings on children he knows, he also relies old photographs as well as memories and dreams for details. He states that his main objective is not to record a likeness but rather to suggest the childlike innocence and vulnerability we once possessed. To accomplish this, Melnikov paints in a technically precise manner, creating dream-like spaces inhabited by lone children who meet out gaze without revealing what has just happened or what is about to happen.
Igor Melnikov: Dreamwatcher, is an exhibition of recent paintings by Melnikov curated to examine the power of contemporary portraiture that challenges the notion that depictions of the human figure are purely objective.
Part of the HUMAN INTEREST contemporary portraits series of exhibitions.
Five exhibitions examine contemporary interpretations of the enduring tradition of portraiture. Can a portrait be more than a recognizable image of the sitter? Since the advent of photography, the genre of contemporary portraiture has expanded far beyond the requirement of recording a likeness for posterity. Today we expect more than a likeness and we rely on the artist’s skill and creativity to see the subject’s outward appearance in the context of a larger reality. Artists, both traditional and conceptual, continue to draw on the genre’s rich and limitless options for new means of creative expression, and their efforts have been rewarded with a resurgence of critical interest. The artist’s challenge is to apply his or her ingenuity and empathetic insight to illuminate not just a person’s unique appearance, but also engage the viewer. Portrait artists frequently describe their efforts as “collaborative,” recognizing that the process requires both the resemblance of the subject and the intention of the artist. The individual pictured, known or unknown, in a work of art is almost always read by the viewer as an extension of the human experience. How we react is literally in the hands of the artist.