Senate House Exhibition Hall, University of Liverpool
Runs until April 1st
'Poetraits' is the first major project by the artist Graham Kershaw,
a series of twelve portraits depicting contemporary British poets. Each
image is accompanied by a hand-written poem composed by those depicted,
representing their individual experiences of being painted or as a response
to the finished artwork.
Kershaw’s painting style is relatively traditional; the compositions
are well structured; yet his execution in comparison is less precise and
in some places deliberately unfinished. There is a quality to his work
reminiscent of the impressionist technique, paint often dabbed and unblended
on the canvas surface, although finished with a greater degree of definition.
While some of the poetry was beyond my basic knowledge and comprehension,
on the whole I feel they improved my experience of the portraits. I was
able to gain a greater insight into the feelings behind the demeanour
and expressions of those depicted, relaying their sense of alienation
and discomfort such as in the poem by Hugo Williams or confidence and
self-assurance from Clare Pollard.
Other addressed issues beyond the experience itself, such as Frieda Hughes
who merely sees the artist capturing a single specific moment in time
or Matt Harvey who tackles the artists inability to depict anything more
than present persona. Probably my favourite poems are those by Roger McGough,
‘Pretty as a Picture’, and David Hart who offer a more light-hearted
response to their final portraits.
I was able to draw parallels between the two, thereby enhancing my perception
of the character and personality of those portrayed. The overall concept
was executed successfully and offers an additional dimension to the traditional
nature of portrait painting.