John O'Flynn - Artist

John O'Flynn - Artist

SKY ARTS HD Portrait Competition 2013

Sky Arts HD are screening “Portrait Artist Of The Year 2013”, its six-part competition series, from Tue, 5/11 at 20.00hrs GMT. Here (left) is the b/w self-portrait that got me into the Dublin Final filmed in RDS in July ’13.. I think it has some qualities, namely the play of planes in the notional “3D space” within the picture frame. Since it was painted 30 years ago(!) I’m glad its qualities were recognised before it gets consigned to the attic once again!

The most notable “play of planes” I know  of in Western art is in Holbien’s “The Ambassadors”: For a long time I’ve been fascinated by it;  the curious object in the foreground exists on an apparently completely different plane in 3D space than the orthodox  3D planes of the rest of the picture. On this incongruent 4th plane is an image of a skull – a ”momento mori” – a reminder of death – which contrasts with the materialism of the Ambassadors “normal” world. The skull is only revealed to the viewer if the picture is viewed from an oblique angle, below and to the left of the painting. It is such an appropriate device, a true analogy of the living’s relationship with death – always present in the midst of life, ignored but insistent! That the artist came up with this ruse prior to cameras, projectors and other modern devices that help us think in these terms today is even more remarkable.



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