Carole DInverno, Voices (1999)
oil on linen
The distinctions, similarities and fusions of portrait vs. figurative painting, caricature and illustration have long since been rationalized in contemporary art, perhaps beginning with Picasso, whose skewed Cubist renditions of friends and associates were said to be instantly identifiable to those who knew the subjects.
The terse and strangely affective figurative paintings of Carole D'Inverno again bring to mind the expressive power of simple statements that contain some of the familiarly distortive qualities of informal photography, giving the image an almost surreal aspect. Like the caricaturist, D'Inverno focusses on the salient features of a subject that denote unique presence and personality, but her objective is not humour. Although her subjects are often friends and family, and predominately women, she invites the unacquainted viewer to share her minimalist and distilling process of identifying the essence of "being."
By simplifying and flattening out her settings and costumes she does away with implied narrative or social meanings in her work: the emphasis is rather on ineffible human qualities that reach far beyond physical plainness or beauty.
D'Inverno's works are not so much dependent on draftsmanship or a painterly surface as on a kind of artistic divination - uncanny readings of eyes or mouth; the set of a jaw or the play of hands - which unaccountably speaks volumes.
© Ted Lindberg