Three hundred and two

Self-portrait through palette with paint

c2000 by Lorraine Fossi

Fossi’s photographic self-portrait deliberately portrays her looking through a palette that was passed down to her from an old Uncle. There is a comforting pleasure in possessing something once used by one’s family, not to mention if their trade, their passion, was similar to our own. A palette to a painter, where the colours and tones of painterly language are created, is deeply meaningful and this action of Fossi looking through what her Uncle used to mix his paints on becomes quite poignant. There is a grasping of history, of happy recognition, in Fossi’s hand that grips the softly worn wood, literally looking through her possible family influences. Her eye, wide open and arresting, appears inquisitive and excited at this prospect of her heritage. The composition of this photo only encourages this recognition, seeped, it seems, in history itself. Black and white immediately transports us to the past, and the comical excitement fuelled by the pose is reminiscent of the play of the Surrealists. Fossi’s eye barely fits into the angled oval hole she looks through, the shape mirroring her eye but at a skewed angle. The palette itself is held askew and appears “emerging from the deep”, the bottom cast in shadows. It becomes abstracted for its odd shape, appearing surreal, yet immediately recognisable as nothing else is shaped quite like it; there is something of Dalí’s playfulness about the treatment of object. This is then carried by the cheerful smudgings of paint in bright red, blue and yellow across the face of the photo. Though done by accident (with the artist’s foot), these make a point about the immediate action of making art. With the brilliance of colour and texture of paint, this photo is brought into the present and physical process of creation.


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