From 23th December 2011 to the 1st of January 2012 - a mere week - I resolved to do at least one self-portrait every day. This has to be one of the best disciplines as it offers the ultimate saurian stumbling block of an irreducible subjectivity. In the heroic attempt to detach oneself from oneself and objectify, then the subconscious emerges, in all its fierce unpredictability.
In a self-portrait drawing [the pencil point is a akin to a scapel and the paper is actual flesh] one probes oneself but without the barrier of words.
The self falls open like a book, complete in its bi-polarity, as the Dionysian/Apollonian schism is there for all to see, but in a way that words cannot express adequately.
Having said that, these notes were taken as the drawings went along.
I don't reproduce all the drawings here, there are more on my Facebook page.
Of course, the lone sketch book itself, sits on my desk in 'my private hell'.
How can one be fully objective when embroiled in a self-portrait?
The eye is the microcosmos.
And yet the eye is blind: -
The eye cannot see itself.
The eye is the great mystery of life.
"L'oeil est une bouche avide
Qui se nourit du monde". [JDM, 'Eye']
("The eye is a hungry mouth
That feeds on the world").
This project is damned from the beginning -
Its subject is too great and yet too pitiful.
My left eye - a self portrait study.
The eye of the assassin?
But Hod, in Norse myth is the blind assassin manipulated by Loki.
Are not all assassins therefore 'blind' in some sense?
Twin eyes: poised assassins,
Puppets and poodles -
Stiletto letters sealed to kill.
We are all lives and all lives are we.
Our memory of lives is a flash across the passing of time,
Jumping the hurdles of identity
I possess nothing by intention.
All that I have clings to me like lice.
This identity is a constant unwanted companion,
Which is no mantle and yet it is worn.
In the self-portrait one expresses the conscious/unconscious self/will.
One can plan a such a self-portrait and yet as it is being created the unconscious weaves its own spell and another, often unexpected, aspect thrusts itself up out of the ground like an aberrant tree-root.
We are all trees, but inferior to actual trees.
Self Portraits are sometimes "born when an artist is passing through a crisis, and it serves as a safety valve for the existential angst that may suddenly well up for no apparent reason". [Maiotti, Drawing Handbook]
Don't they know that life is eternal crisis?
Drawing definitely uses a different part of the brain.
In playing music on the guitar for instance, I find it best to get into a trance state with everything becoming automatic.
But in drawing one needs to be in a state of continual alertness, probing, assessing.
Sucked into the vortex of my own solitude.
Drawing began on the cave walls, as an aid for hunting magic in Paleolithic times.
And little has changed -
I draw here in the cave of my suspicion:
Both hunter and hunted.
Every drawing is a self portrait whether it be of
a still life,
a landscape -
everything is Self.And yet the self-portrait tries to avoid the
"At the Moment of Death, a Vermilion Kiss".
Likeness itself is a perceptual inter-pretation at best.
An imposition at worst.
Words necessarily isolate things in the world.
But the image unites all things -
As Schopenhauer says, the mouth is the objectification of hunger.
The beast in man
"I searched my self" [Heraclitus].
I am the self-predator,
Sniffing out myself;
Solitude is the catch.
Face reading: Physiognomy was considered one of the Occult Arts.
I have a mole on my neck [see below] which Cardamus said was a predictor of "Saturnine misfortune"!
He bestowed on his friend the gift of living death.
Eternal Recurrence -
Don't they know that life is
In a drawing one is constantly making decisions, appraising, damning and deeming.