Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Photo: Portrait of a woman with wine glass


This is a pretty unusual portrait for today's taste and fashion. For one, the model does not appear at all relaxed and inviting. At first glance the rigid pose, the mannered way in which she holds the glass, high forehead are intimidating. She is not trying to sell you anything -- either a product or herself. Looking at the picture longer you realize just how extraordinarily beautiful this woman is. And how unfamiliar her expression looks (at least for me). We are used to portraits that express some emotion, seek to pull the viewer into their emotional world and context, or both.

This work does neither. It is beautifully lighted, as is always the case for the author - Vadim Piskarev - and flawlessly executed. Some of the comments under the work [sorry, in russian] feel that the rigid and unnatural pose detracts. I strongly disagree. As the author himself says,

...not all portraits must be of blue-eyed blondes with 90-60-90 figure and puffy lips


After looking at the picture I do not even see the face. The face does not quite matter. It is the arch of her back and the steely quiteness of the grip around the glass. If the liquid inside the glass is poison she will drink it rather than fling it away. She seems to be willing to take on the world and would be up to the challenge. But she is the one who is going to decide which challenges to accept and which to ignore.

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