One of the guiding inspirations for this thesis research is the idea of the mask.  Here are some examples of masks both in modern art history, and in contemporary art that have inspired me.


René Magritte, detail of “The Enchanted Domain”, oil on canvas, 1953.  In the Albertina Museum in Vienna.  I connect with this painting on so many different levels.  First of all, it is known that Magritte suffered family dysfunction during his childhood, culminating in the suicide of his mother, and I identify with this aspect of this painter.  As well, I connect with the conceptual choices made in the above painting, the psychology of the two characters, the use of an apple to symbolize a head, the suggestion of eyes and hiding given by the colored masks, I relate to all these aspects of the above masterpiece.

Romuald Hazoumè, from Petrol Mask Series, started 1997.  I saw these exhibited in Art Dubai in 2012, through October Gallery, based in London.  I am moved by their sense of minimalism, their economy of material, their beautiful simplicity, and the somewhat hidden connotations of their underlying message.  I personally love that they are African, as I have my own recent person connections to Africa, and my own small collection of tribal African masks created by unknown local artisans.

Aurel Schmidt, Maneater Series.  I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to see a comprehensive solo show of her work in Manhattan in 2008.  The above pictures can only capture so much of her incredibly detailed, photorealistic, colored pencil drawings.  The minute detail with which she renders her drawings is mindblowing and fantastic.  While I would not necessarily call these masks, they are certainly faces handled so minimally and so concisely.  Her message of personal pain mixed with lightheartedness, sin, issues of the body and body art, is something that has stuck with me for years, I identify so strongly with it.


Gerhard Richter, Laughman, 1967, oil on canvas, 45 cm x 35 cm.

Theory has nothing to do with a work of art. Pictures which are interpretable, and which contain a meaning, are bad pictures. A picture presents itself as the Unmanageable, the Illogical, the Meaningless. It demonstrates the endless multiplicity of aspects; it takes away our certainty, because it deprives a thing of its meaning and its name. It shows us the thing in all the manifold significance and infinite variety that preclude the emergence of any single meaning and view.

Notes, 1964-65, from Gerhard Richter: Text. Writings, Interviews, and Letters, 1961-2007,Thames and Hudson, London, 2009.  pg. 32-33.