PORTRAITS

BACKGROUND, PROCESS, AND DISCOVERY


I don’t know why, but ever since high school I have taken photos of my art, family, and friends. Since then, these three subject areas have represented my ongoing interests and activities, and have defined my existence--giving me reason for living each day up to the present time.


I remember how pleased and important I felt in my late teens when I purchased a Rolleicord Twin Lens Reflex camera. It quickly became a proactive tool for taking B&W photos related to the vicissitudes of my activities and my everyday life.

Besides taking pictures, I developed the negatives in the bathroom late at night when my parents were asleep. Converting the negative images to sight on photographic paper was always an anticipated wonder to me, knowing it had an hidden image ready to reveal itself in all its photographic detail. It remains to this day a profound experience. It has transformed me in ways I did not know and could not have known at the time.

Photography also gave me a socially acceptable identity softening my anxiety in social situations. Having a camera hang over my shoulder provided me with something worthy to do and share with others when I had little or nothing to say.

Fast forward to 1995 is when a new printmaking subject of interest came to mind: family portraits and friends. This soon became a major project for exploring personal photos taken decades ago and recent ones taken with a digital camera.  I began by going back to an earlier time to convert a few personal photos to digital files. This would allow for greater implementation of choices, and creative possibilities by viewing digital files at different levels of magnification. The digital experience was more than I could have imagined. This process revealed curious details of interest, and allowed clarity and selective augmentations and special effects to take place as a matter of clarity and expressive selection.

Bringing personal content of non-celebrity families and friends into the printmaking arena and to public art spaces I thought should have the visual strength of large-scale bleed formats such as 40” x 30”, and an unusual method of transferring images, something outside the mainstream of printmaking, known as paper-litho.  I had become quiet familiar with this medium over the years. This fragile unpredictable printing method having its own visual printing character and seemingly, a mind of its own would be a great introduction to creating a radically different kind of artfulness in portraiture. This would be my way of honoring my parents and celebrating my dear family, and friends within the inviolable realm of art.


John Avakian, Oct. 23, 2018


SEE SLIDE SHOW BELOW

Detail of David T.  See full portrait in slide show below this page.

Detail of David T.  See full portrait in slide show below this page.