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Layered portraits from the collection

Friday 19 August until Sunday 27 November 2016

A technologically-precise sculpture depicts an artist. A speculative painting depicts a philosopher. Together, in this focus display, they explore physical and psychological manifestations of self-hood.

Divide (Self portrait), 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide (Self portrait), 2011 by Sam Jinks

Divide is a self portrait by Sam Jinks. He recalls owning an anatomical model in childhood – a representation of fragility and mortality. Contemplation of the human life cycle is a theme that runs through much of Jinks’ work. Recent sculptures have drawn on the classic humanist themes of Italian Renaissance art. Jinks’ portrait head and bone-like maquette explore the intersection of science, self-hood and the traditions of the portrait bust.

The portrait of philosopher David Chalmers was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery. Artist Nick Mourtzakis was invited to create the painting. At their first meeting Mourtzakis was struck by Chalmers’ ‘utter sensitivity’. The subtlety of Chalmers’ thinking and the lucidity and formality of his writing suggested to Mourtzakis the necessity of making the portrait as ‘non-material’ and ‘non-physical’ as possible. Mourtzakis made sketches from life and these were developed into the final portrait. Within the open visual structure of geometric lines and spaces is the suggestion of the softness and substance of a marble bust. A thin vertical strip provides a vector of focus and stability and holds the freedom of the form together.

From 19 August, the portraits will be displayed along with related maquette and sketches.