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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

On Paths to Portraiture

Irina Baronova (handing on the baton)
by Jenny Sages
image - Art Gallery of New South Wales.


I recently watched a fantastic documentary about Australian Artist Jenny Sages, Jenny Sages - Paths to Portraiture, on ABC iview. I don't think I have seen Sages' work before so it was a revelation.  Her portraits in particular just glow from the canvas.  In describing her own response to Sages' portrait of her, writer Helen Garner spoke of the portrait as revealing something akin to a 'psychic connection' between the artist and the subject.  Sages scratches and scours into the canvas as she builds up the painting - so much detail on the surface of the work, which makes the sheer scale of her portraits all the more impressive. The documentary was extremely moving and beautifully made, revealing much about the artist and her life and how she choses to make her work.  I was deeply inspired by this woman who found her real creative path at the age of 50, after a career as an illustrator and raising a family. The subjects of her portraits are people she has a close connection with or respect for and this may be the reason why these works are so compelling.  Her self portraits are intense and revealing and the portrait of her husband captures all the wisdom and grace of old age as well as her love for him.  Her portrait of Irina Baronova is stunning in the way it captures the intense gaze of the subject and again, the wisdom of age.  Jenny Sages has been an Archibald Prize finalist TWENTY times.  I am in awe of her talent.

2 comments:

  1. Well I can't (and I can) believe I have never heard of Jenny Sages. I look forward to watching the documentary. Thank you.

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  2. I remember being similarly surprised when I first came across a biography of the painter Judy Cassab - the only woman so far to have won the Archibald twice. I hope you get a chance to watch the Jenny Sages documentary.

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