I have always considered photography to be a much more realistic portrayal of the world in comparison to painting, because no matter how accurate one’s artistic abilities may be with a paintbrush (or any other tool), the final product will never be a direct reflection of who that person or object actually is on the physical surface, inevitably distorting their being as well as their surroundings based entirely off the painter’s skill and interpretation of his or her subject. I was wildly taken aback, however, after meticulous observation of a painted portrait done with acrylic on linen by Jason Brooks entitled, “Sir Paul Nurse,” that was on exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I soon realized that it is skill, indeed, which can make or break any medium’s portrayal of a subject, whether it be painting as well as photography. Just as a painter can entirely distort a subject with the wrong brush strokes, a photographer has almost more of an ability to distort who or what something is, all depending on the light the subject is captured in, as well as what that subject is captured doing, who they are captured with, what they are wearing on that particular day, what their body language undeniably expresses—the list really could go on and on. Just because someone is captured on film, it does not mean that the way they are portrayed in the picture is a direct representation of who they really are or what they’re all about. A picture only shows what is on the surface at that exact given moment in time, and it is up to onlookers to determine for themselves how they wish to interpret the picture and circumstance captured; and onlookers will be faced with this challenge with any artistic portrayal of “reality,” because that is so much of what the enjoyment of art is all about—being able to determine for oneself just what an artist’s work means, both in terms of what they think the artist’s intention was for the mass public as well as how they interpret the message of the artist’s work for themselves as individuals in relation to their personal lives.
To view this complete set of photos, click on the following link to my Flickr: