December 2017-March 2017
45 DIGITAL SKETCHES ON THE THEME OF CARICATURE
These are basically caricatures given a less obvious context. While studying cartoon characters for LOVED ONES, I occasionally encountered caricatures. I’ve always enjoyed them, although never particularly good at drawing them. I’m still not. What I love is not so much the point or humour made, but the uncanny resemblance. Caricatures are exaggerations that somehow reveal an unexpected familiarity or accuracy. Some are better in this respect than others, obviously. Caricatures figured in my dissertation, following the work of Gombrich, Wollheim and others. They are an issue for depiction. But it never occurred to me to pursue them in my pictures until now.
One can usually tell a caricature from a mere portrait whether one recognises the subject or not. There are style clues governing exaggeration. But the humour really relies upon familiarity with the subject and an established public image or persona. Caricature offers a sort of shorthand, usually to outline an outrageous situation. This idea made me think of masks and then, given the level of deceit and pretence involved in public life, of masques or a masquerade. This is what I mean by a less obvious context. The scope that offers the series is far greater than caricatures of course, which is why I have divided it into A and B pages. The B page will follow in a month or two. Here I’m concentrating on faces (although modesty forbids me from identifying subjects) drawn from across a general cultural spectrum. Some are people I despise; some are people I admire. Anyone may be caricatured, although will not necessarily be recognised. This is fine by me. My aim is to profile levels of recognition and cultural priorities generally or globally.
As with previous series, I’ve used sub-pages for more than three variations on a composition. A link to these follows the title of a relevant work.
More notes at the bottom of the page.
Previously I have dealt with portraiture in the LIKENESS series, building a sort of intellectual pantheon, and with CLOSE-UPS, as stereotypical movie characters. Both were more or less just a bust or head against a blank background. One of the things I wanted to try was offering a little more of a background, while retaining just a head and shoulders to foreground. The backgrounds hopefully hint at ominous and/or festive settings. I liked this unusual balance between the glimpse of backgrounds inflecting on personality, and personality – in so far as recognised – inflecting on background. In part B, the series will feature more figures, less attention to faces.
Finally, caricature is trickier than one might suppose. Caricature is one area of depiction where software has made an enormous impact, but that does not necessarily make it any easier. Not just any exaggeration will do. All depends on an acute discernment of facial features, a ruthless exploitation of irregularities and an eye for overall resemblance or consistency. I confess I studied a lot of on-line caricature for this series and learned a lot. Credit must go to the exceptional talents of Andrea Austoni, John Bautista, Serge Birault, Thierry Coquelet, Chad Da Costa, Jaume Cullel, Panagiotas Diplaras, David Duque, Fabo, Anthony Geoffroy, Donkey Hotey, Court Jones, Sasa Kunic, Nico Macpulenta, Dinko Medved, Vladimir Mochalov, Bangalore Monkey, oRen, Vincenzo Patzo, Mario Perrotta, Rodney Pike, Nithin Rao, Marcus Sakoda, Rocky Sawyer, Kacey Schwartz, Jason Seiler, Rob Snow, Jeff Stahl, Torren Thomas, and Yuri Wolkovich amongst many others.