Natasha Bieniek

1 Jan 2011

When we think of historical painting we tend to remember the profound masterpieces of a considerable grandeur. During the 16th Century however another kind of painting became significant: the miniature portrait. These portraits were portable often resembling medals or pendants. Their purpose was to portray an individual’s characteristics, acting as a keepsake or a representation for a distant viewer. The invention of photography contributed to the decline of the miniature portrait. What might we experience in a painting of such a small scale today?

The exhibition Petit Genre presents a series of meticulously executed paintings depicted on a miniature scale. Physical space is narrowed; in order to distinguish the work the viewer must get closer to it. Such intimacy seeks to address the relationship formed between the painting and the viewer, you almost have to breath on the portrait to perceive it accurately. Seen in this proximity painted details and techniques become more apparent. The nature of paint confounds the eye; the works appear more convincing and realistic than they would in a larger format. Such un-monumental proportions address further concerns for the continued relevance of painting in the contemporary world. The intention is for the scale to contribute to the fragility of the painting’s content.