Pete Nawara


 

Artist Statement

The Mirror Conspiracy

It’s not by chance that I have chosen the human figure, and particularly the portrait, as a subject. The human face is the most visually captivating thing a person can see, and we identify with the human body and face more than anything else. I’ve heard a story that when someone asked John Ford, while setting up a shoot in the desert, “What are we going to shoot out here in the middle of nowhere?” Ford replied, “I’m going to shoot the most interesting thing in the world: the human face.”

The physical process starts with the camera. A subject is chosen and asked to pose. The camera is set on a tripod and the subject is asked to pretend the camera is a mirror, and that they are ‘checking themselves out’. Several photos are taken and then transferred into the computer for digital modifications. The photos are then touched up and arranged in a composition. Then, using vector tools, they are traced into shapes of color. Once they have been ‘vectorized’, they are printed in grayscale. The printed piece is then projected onto canvas and the piece is traced loosely. The shapes are then filled in with acrylic paint thinned with water, and gouache markers. Lastly, gold leaf is applied.

I strive to make objects that are aesthetically pleasing. The use of photography, computer software, and projection give the work a contemporary feel, while thinned out acrylic and gouache keep with the tradition of paint on canvas. The flattened areas of vibrant color and larger than life portraits relate to the era of pop art, while still maintaining a relationship with the advancing technology of computer art. Exhibiting the use of, what I like to call, analog vector graphics, the pieces are assembled with a certain disregard for the realism of the original photographic portrait.

The end result is an aesthetic object that uses color and texture to entice the viewer’s eye. The conceptual ideas behind the work are for the observer to interpret on their own, or to not interpret at all. The idea is that the pieces are aesthetic and whether you like them or not, they have an immediate presence. They are not difficult to comprehend visually or conceptually.

It’s about how we see ourselves. What aesthetic ideal do we hold when we’re observing ourselves, or just people in general? How would we look to someone if we were to display all our vanities for the world to see? How does our reflection relate to us? When viewing ourselves, there are certain imperfections that we are more aware of than an outside viewer might be. Isn’t it like that when artists look at their own work?

Pete Nawara’s Website

Pete Nawara on Flickr