Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Painting Faces
by Brandon Kralik

A new video featuring the paintings of Brandon Kralik
Painting Faces

The Human Face is the primary symbol in our visual iconography.

  Our mother's face is the first thing most of us see and from those first moments we build a symbolic dialog with the world we live in, the bodies we inhabit.  The human face is not just a portrait.  It is a symbol of ourselves.  When I stand in front of what I consider to be the best portraits ever painted, "Cornelius Van der Geest" by Van Dyke, "Agatha Bas" by Rembrandt, or "Courier" by Odd Nerdrum, my mind naturally tries to create some story from my limited understanding of the sitter's identity but paintings of this caliber stop the thought, they suspend me in time and give arise to sensations beyond words, beyond the chatter.  No doubt photons and strange quarks excited by the magnetism that radiates from such a painting, affecting me in waves.  And then, when I try to identify the sensations with my mind the waves break up and I am left grasping at particles beyond words. 
Beautiful faces radiate.

  My Mother is a painter and her sister and her sister's husband were painters and I remember my first exposure to oil painting was in their studios in Colorado.  Majestic faces of American Indians and scenes of the Rocky Mountains, washing out into the desert.   I was told that if one could paint a face then one could paint anything and it sounded good.   The thought of being able to paint anything was appealing so I dove into drawing and painting faces.  Copying from painters I admired was one way of learning to paint faces and I did a lot of copying in my student days in New York but working directly from life is more rewarding for me.  Often when I am studying at a museum I find myself sketching people just standing. Looking.  
The expressions on the faces can be so beautiful, so full of awe and wonder, jaw dropped and eyes reaching out for more!  
Isn't that why museums all over the world are packed with people curious about the power of painting?  When I see those faces I know it with my mind, when I myself turn and face a beautiful portrait, look into the face of a painter such as Ilya Repin, I feel it in my core.  We relate to it and I strive to emulate this feeling  in my work.  

  I have heard it argued that abstract painting is closer to the divine precisely because it can eliminate the human face, such as Pollock or Rothko did and so on.  I  disagree.  They interpret the human face as ego and treat it as crass, ugly, somehow stained in the mind of the pure conceptualist with all that is nasty, brutish and short.   It is along these lines that it has been a taboo to even paint the face, to paint it well I should say, throughout much of recent modern history.     

Figurative Painting is the best of both worlds. 
  At it's best the glory of creation comes shining out of the chaos of paint, of molecules, refracting light and at the same time address the seeming solidity of the our world, of ourselves. It offers a broader range of perspective by communicating not only by means of our subjective consciousness but thorough symbols we recognize as a collective.  Symbols like the Human Face.

  One thing that antiquity, the great religions and the tribal myths tell us is that the secret to connecting with God, with the universal intelligence, with the cosmos, lies within us.  They tell us that if we go inward, then everything will open up to us.  We begin our understanding of who we are, as a child, by connecting with our face.  To consider it egocentric is to say that one has not gone far enough into themselves, into the mystery and the meditation for when one does go deep enough inward one comes to a more elevated understandings.  Fresh Perspectives.  One comes to understand our relation to each other, the sociocentric and then comes a globalcentric perspective, which a lot of people are still having a hard time with, and  ultimately there is a cosmocentric which is the spiritual realm. So, it is really the human face that opens the path to self discovery and I would likely argue that it doesn't necessarily matter who's face it is, if it is painted well, it can take you there, to the spirit realm.  We're like bubbles on the surface of the ocean. We recognize the ocean in each other. 

  Going back to the idea that if one can paint a face one can paint anything.  That conversation was taking place one afternoon in Nerdrum's studio.  Odd and I were both relatively silent until the group of three or four pupils left the room and Odd asked me, "What do you think of that?"
  "The idea that if you can paint a face then you can paint anything?"  I made sure we were both speaking of the same thing.
  I laughed my reply, knowing already what Odd thought, and I thought it too, "It's a good start."
His voice was excited as he was lathered paint onto a particular mountain range, building it up, tearing it down, "That's exactly what it is!  A good start!"
  "But to paint two faces..."
  "...or four hands, or six feet, and to set it in the landscape..."
  "and bath it all in the golden light of setting sun, in eternity..."
  "Yes," he smiled, " We mustn't forget that.   A face is a good start though."

For a painter on a quest to paint "everything" the face may be a good start, but from a cosmocentric perspective, it may be the everything we seek.

I find the universe reclining in the face of  my Love. 

"Awakening" by Brandon Kralik, oil on panel, 40 x 30 cm
to purchase this painting now, click HERE!

-Carl Theodor Dreyer


  It is possible to commission portraits directly from me  or through one of the official representatives of my work.  Please contact me for details.  To see what Collectors of my work have to say please read their comments by clicking HERE.  I am happy to say that throughout my career I have only satisfied customers!

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  3. I read your most recent article on the Huffington Post and could relate deeply. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as they were very encouraging.-Carolina E. http://carolinaelizabeth-art.blogspot.com/

  4. Very well done with the post.
    Thank you so much for sharing.


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