Chuck Close

Chuck Close is an American Painter and Photographer, born in 1940, renowned for his portraits, particularly large scale and photorealistic as well as slightly abstract as pictured below. What struck me most whilst learning about Close was that he in fact suffers from a condition called prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, which prevents him from recognising faces. Immediately I can understand his tremendous work around portraiture and faces. Later on in life Close also suffered a spinal injury which caused him to become paralysed. After physical therapy Close regained the use of his limbs, which enabled him to continue to produce art-work at which point he gravitated towards more abstract works.

Fred/Diptych, 2017-2018
Oil on canvas
36 × 30 in
91.4 × 76.2 cm

I chose this work by Chuck Close as an example because I didn’t find it anywhere near as intimidating as his photorealistic portraits. They are just astonishing, and there’s no chance I would be able to provide a response to such a work. This work however I really enjoy, you can see the painstaking time it has taken Close to measure out each square and determine each colour that inhabits the space. If you squint your eyes ever so slightly you can see the image perfectly, which is another side of this work that I like, it invites the viewer to push past merely looking, but towards really reacting to the works physiologically, in an attempt to see the work in a different way.

I attempted to recreate both above paintings, measuring out the correct size paper and squares to fill the space with bursts of colour. I’ve not used anywhere near as many different colours/shades/tones of paint as Close however I do think the painting on the left does render the aim of the painting experiment a success. You can sort of make out the shapes and lines of the portrait, ok withholding lots of depth and warmth, however I think if I had continued to work on this piece for maybe another hour it would see some improvement. The painting on the right, I attempted to follow the colour chart Close had used in his version but of course did not mimic the colours directly. As a result some of the colour and shades had no been deposited in the correct place and it does not resemble any kind of face no matter how hard I squint! I thoroughly enjoyed the process of weaving these paintings together though.

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