Colin Chillag’s Unfinished Portraits

I came across Colin Chillag‘s art the other day and thought it was amazing.  His unfinished portraits are not only beautiful, but touch on a number of ideas that I find interesting.

First, the idea of process.  Chillag does not hide anything, he shows exactly how the paint was mixed, he leaves the under drawing, the leaves his notations.  I think it’s always interesting to think about the process of the artwork being created versus how it is displayed.  Personally, I know that often, I work on the floor, or on a desk, surrounded by cups of water, bottles of paint, messy charcoal.  And yet, usually when my work is displayed, it’s on a pristine white surface, sometimes with gloves, so that not even the dirt on the viewers’ hands gets on the piece.  I love the way these paintings do not pretend that the process through which they were created was clean.

I also love that the pieces blur reality with the process of making art.  They are very realistic portraits that could simply reflect life, but instead are blatantly paintings.  They are not pretending, not mimicking and they make no excuses.   Specifically, in the one above, you can see two very realistically painted individuals, and I love that there is no crazy blending, there is no perfect alignment and yet there is a certain morphing that takes place.  It makes me think about how a portrait never truly captures the multiple dimensions of an individual, nor the multiple dimensions of how we see an individual.  In a way, this confusing image may even be a more accurate depiction of how we view others.  This all makes sense in my head, but I can’t say for sure that what I just wrote will make sense to anyone else.  Hopefully, I’m getting the gist across.

I also love that Chillag is playing with the idea of when an artwork is done.  I’ve struggled with that in the past and I like the playful, yet very in-your-face statement he’s making.  They are done when he says they are done.  No one else can make that decision but him.  I sometimes feel like my pieces are never actually done.  In fact, I have a bad habit of going back to pieces and wanting to change them after a significant amount of time has passed.  And yet, there’s a certain point where you just have to let go.  You have to realize that you are not a machine and the piece will never be perfect.  Part of the beauty will be in its imperfections.  Also, another cool fact, some (or all) of his portraits are done from photographs he picks up from thrift stores!

For more, check out Colin Chillag’s website!

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