Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Saint Fabiola

A gem of a one-woman show.
Francis Alÿs: Fabiola / National Portrait Gallery, London WC2

Francis Alÿs's images of a 4th-century saint raise tantalising questions about the power of the portrait.

It would be hard to imagine a more startling show of portraits than the 300 heads now assembled, with barely an inch between them, in Fabiola at the National Portrait Gallery. The spectacle is overwhelming. It is not just the critical mass of so many faces, floor to ceiling, nor the fact that some of these works might not ordinarily be found in a public gallery. It is that they all show exactly the same woman.

The same woman, what is more, in exactly the same pose: facing right, her head in profile, hooded in a red veil against a dark background. That she is a cult figure is obvious, even to those who have no idea who she is; that the cult is religious becomes apparent from the veil. But beyond that, what strikes over and again is the paradoxical sense that no matter how alike these images are - how alike they aim to look - each is tellingly different.

To read the whole review, go here.
I find Karin Juricks' DSFDF blog endlesly fascinating, so this review had an immediate pull for me. Overwhelming, yes, I would agree, and somehow ....... very weird. Anyway, here, I add my version of Saint Fabiola. Not the best drawing I have ever done, I feel, but I was in such a hurry to post something! It is good to be back.

No comments: