Skin: Portrait of a Young Girl

7:00 AM

Skin
Curated by Sonia Larbi

Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Young Girl, 1465-1470

When brainstorming ideas for this 4-work collection, I decided to do something less...nautical and more abstract. I tried to think of one unifying thing in all the art I studied in my Renaissance art history class that jumped out at me or took me by surprise. Almost all of my favorite oeuvres this year were of humans. A large majority, portraits. But the portraits and sculpture I singled out were much more than simple depictions of faces or bodies. They had something else, something hard to put in words. In these seven works, light emits from the subjects - instead of just reflecting off of them. The bodies are tactile, realistic, and emotive. Their skin tells the story just as much as their faces. You want to get to know them, talk to them, help them, or befriend them. They draw you in, include you in their drama. They are the human condition in two dimensions. When you look at them, you sink into their skin, become them - even just for one moment. That idea titles this collection.

Here we meet Petrus Christus' Portrait of a Young Girl - a mysterious, piercing, portrait of...a young girl. That's all we get. No background to place her or name to identify her. All we have is her face - in minute detail. The spidery cracks in the delicate paint work to increase her flawlessness. They highlight her perfection and add an air of breakability to the painting - like she's going to fall apart at any moment. Her almond eyes look at you with calm contempt. Her skin glows with an inner radiance only a master could paint. The brush strokes remind me of Durer they're so small. She takes your breath away - and doesn't even care that she's doing it.

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