Your Bad Self
Group Self Portrait Exhibition
“The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.”
― James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
In this age of Instagram, the selfie is the feel-good tonic for the masses – fast, ubiquitious, cheap and easy. But what do selfies actually convey about their subjects? Ultimately, very little. We see only the surface, the exterior, the shallow self - readymade for social media. Selfies, like friends on Facebook, encourage a sort of widespread depersonalization, faces without real meaning or connection. The dumbing down of the individual and the Id.
On the other hand, the 50 artists included in Your Bad Self delve deeper. They explore and portray a wide variety of selves, in particular focusing on that other, less accessible self – what Jung refers to as the “shadow self”. Whether through debt or intuition or hardship or segregation from society, artists have the ability to convey a mysterious, hidden, more elusive self – and have been doing so for hundreds of years. Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Van Gogh, Beckmann, Kahlo, Bacon, Samaras, Close and Basquiat are just a few artists who have contributed indelible portraits of themselves to the world, for the enrichment of mankind. Your Bad Self presents 50 contemporary artists’ unique self-portraits, which form a welcome antidote to the proliferation of the “Good Self”: those gleeful, smiling, narcissistic but ultimately vacuous selfies.
Is now here: the painter's
Reflected face, in which we linger, receiving
Dreams and inspirations on an unassigned
Frequency, but the hues have turned metallic,
The curves and edges are not so rich. Each person
Has one big theory to explain the universe
But it doesn't tell the whole story
And in the end it is what is outside him
That matters, to him and especially to us
Who have been given no help whatever
In decoding our own man-size quotient and must rely
On second-hand knowledge.
- John Ashbery
“Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror”
That process of self-examination – not self-advertising – is what separates the artist’s quest from the layman’s everyday posting on Instagram. Seeing with fresh eyes into a subject ultimately very familiar – in fact gazing directly into those eyes – is the beginning of this journey. There is a process of reflection and meditation and digging deeper inside which encourages an honest vision, which opens this door. And opens a door for the viewer to embark on the very same path. “Take a look at yourself” as Michael Jackson demanded in his hit Man in the Mirror several decades ago. The answers – not always pleasant or comfortable or instantly gratifying - lie within.
It is with great pleasure we present Your Bad Self at Arts+Leisure from Sept. 12th- Nov. 1st, 2015, with an accompanying full-color catalog designed by Ninze Chen, including text by Scott Indrisek and Nick Lawrence. For further information please contact Nick Lawrence at email@example.com