Round Seven: Faceless

Buddy Nestor vs. Jenny Morgan

I love the unfinished painting. There is something quite nice in a piece that kind of fades off and has a sense of the incomplete. Within this, however, I am not a big fan of those pieces that choose to leave out the face of an image. It kind of screams “I can’t draw faces” and while it can sometimes work I tend to think it shows weakness in an artist. I prefer edges of the body or hair to trail out and contrast with a well detailed face. However, both Buddy Nestor and Jenny Morgan approach faces in a fresh and unusual way. They both don’t show a detailed or clear face, but the absence of this is highly purposeful and effective. In no way are they lazy artists who opt out of face drawing, and this is why they are worthy of discussion.

I have also decided to show two images by each artist as they both have many similar pieces in the same style. So, I will be talking more about their personal styles more so than specific detail to each image.

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What I like about the first images (Nestor):

Nestor’s pieces are unusual and striking for this reason. Each image is purposefully constructed to appear as if it is either melting or being burned through with acid. While this sounds gruesome, the images aren’t too much in terms of this. In fact, they even acquire some beauty through their vagueness.  Although, I would argue that the colour palate does work against the beauty. For example, had they been done it more vibrant, uplifting colours it could appear more like water colours dripping down the page, and either look etherial or even psychedelic. But Nestor has chosen a limited colour palate, so we must ask ourselves why? There is a general drabness because of the gray tones. But then the pops of red and blue add contrasting focal points. They also add depth, and remind me of different layers of flesh being stripped away by acid – the darker and more concentrated the colour the deeper in the flesh, the stronger the acid. The images are sombre and serious. They are well executed and have impact. They are intriguing and thought-provoking. They are good pieces of art and quite like nothing I have seen before.

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What I like about the second images (Morgan):

These pieces are more vibrant, but also have a certain colour palate – skin tones, reds, pinks, oranges. In general, we have a woman (often the same one) facing us. Her face is faded in some way, making it distant and appear to be drifting back from us. We are witnessing the person diminish. Morgan also makes interesting us of hands. They are in unusual colours – not gloves, but like the skin has been painted, or they simply lose their forms, becoming flat shapes or shadows. The images are somewhat creepy and confronting. Technically they are great. You can clearly see Morgan’s ability to paint a face, and it is clear that her intent is to smudge over the form to both flatten and distance it from the viewer. Is what we see real or are we confronted by an apparition? What do these woman want from us? What are they trying to communicate? Like Nestor, Morgan’s images keep me guessing and captivated.

Conclusions:

I enjoy both Morgan and Nestor’s pieces as they are really unique and distinctive. They both keep me interested and offer something that I hadn’t really seen before. However, I do have a bit of a clear favourite – Jenny Morgan. The colours she uses, the way you are confronted by the subject matter, the interesting use of form and dimension (flat, two-dimensional areas as well as the depth of three-dimensional areas), the wonder that lingers with me. While Nestor’s pieces are interesting and more unusual, there is a certain essence in Morgan’s art that makes her the winner for me.

Do you agree? Let me know who you would crown winner.

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