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Felipe Chavez


Felipe Chavez, "And I Laid Next To Him"; "I Will Fall Asleep Here"; "Open Your Eyes And See Us"; "Hide, These Walls Can Hear Us"; "Safer In Black Waters". All are ink wash paintings on paper.

Q: How does the construct of identity influence self-portraiture?

A: I consider self-portraiture to be an introspective exploration of the self, which aims to evolve your own perception of who you are, who you’ve been and the moments flowing into who you are becoming.

The construct of identification is very present in what I create, as, in my mind, an established identity should reflect a grounded, almighty awareness of the self. But what I’ve understood through these years of exploring myself, is how the will to be identified and the experiences you go through in the attempt to find yourself are what makes you who you are. Though the need is there, to want to know it all, our transient growth will always prevent us from doing so.

Q: Is a portrait automatically a judgement?

A: In my opinion, a portrait will always be a judgement. Coming from the creator, the viewer and anyone involved in experiencing the piece.

I, as the creator, utilise my self-portraits to find reason and understanding in the moments that I’ve felt lost. It is through looking back, questioning, judging and analysing those portraits of myself, that I can see clearer who I was at that moment.

Q: Is a portrait a performance?

A: A portrait is a moment under the spotlight, showcasing who you, the model or creator of the portrait, have chosen to exhibit. The creator has then the ability to become the architect of whatever and whoever the viewer sees.

This captured memory can be, however, an authentic glimpse into the artist’s mind. Lifted onto a stage to be performed and scrutinized.

Q: Do you agree if I say that by making a self-portrait you heal yourself?

A: Being an artist and producing art for me, as I focus on self-portraiture, is only a healing process once the painting is complete. The physical and emotional act of creating is an exhausting act of awakening emotions and insecurities. There is no peace in the exhibitionism and the prodding of the self, only to uncover further distressing layers you weren’t ready to digest.

Q: Is contextualization necessary to understand a true (self) portrait?

A: For my practice, context, and more information on the thought process behind a said piece, is an enhancement to the experience of viewing my work. When looking into a self-portrait, one must realise that it is but a captured moment of many moments, a frame of a larger narrative. My exploration is a continuous one that encompasses more than what is seen in one visual.

On the other hand, the intention of the creator may be for the viewer to absorb only what is given and if contextualised, it would diminish the purpose of the painting.


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