About Face

Exhibition Dates: 
March 4, 2017 to April 27, 2017
About Face at the Kellogg University Art Gallery
About Face at the Kellogg University Art Gallery

about-face /əˌboutˈfās/ (n., v.) def.: a turn made so as to face the opposite direction.

About Face is less about portraiture, and more about taking the traditional definition of portraiture and turning it on its side – or completely around— in an opposite direction.

Justin Bower, Rebecca Campbell, Salomon Huerta and Roni Stretch are some of the most prolific contemporary artists who use the concept of “the portrait” not as a way of identifying or glorifying a particular person, but as a form of expressing ideas about how our environment –interfaced with technology, and sorely sprinkled with occasional bigotry, misogyny, violence, nostalgia and exceptionalism— permeates our world views and cultural identities. The result is a more subjective interpretation of what the human facial form represents as it is used to re-identify, remove, hide, veil, disguise, distort or obliterate the face, altogether. In the end, the result is less about the face as a form of identification, or an expression of idealized beauty, strength or heroism, but more a commentary on the psychological and social implications that ensue: superficiality and the commodification of the human face and body; a re-interpretation of facial expression and body language; the inevitable instability of human presence on this planet as technology, climate and socio- and geo-political events play out; the human condition as it relates to mortality and immortality; and the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual connectivity as humans interact with one another –as artist and artwork interacts with viewer.

Traditionally, a portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer. Most early representations of the human face that are clearly intended to show an individual are of ancient rulers, and tend to follow idealizing artistic conventions, rather than the individual features of the subject's body.

Some of the earliest surviving painted portraits of people, who were not rulers, are the Greco-Roman funeral portraits that survived in the dry climate of Egypt. These are almost the only paintings from the classical world that have survived, apart from frescos, sculptures and portraits on coins or medallions.

Justin Bower, Rebecca Campbell, Salomon Huerta and Roni Stretch are some of the most prolific contemporary artists who use the concept of “the portrait” not as a way of identifying or glorifying a particular person, but as a form of expressing ideas about how our environment –interfaced with technology, and sorely sprinkled with occasional bigotry, misogyny, violence, nostalgia and exceptionalism— permeates our world views and cultural identities. Meet the artists at the exhibition's opening day festivities, and catch a special artist's lecture with Salomon Huerta on April 18.

March 4, 2017

2:00 PM to 5:00 PM / W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery

Meet the artists whose works take center stage at the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery. An artists' talk with Justin Bower, Rebecca Campbell, Salomon Huerta and Roni Stretch concludes the opening day festivities at 4 p.m. The event is open and free to the public.

April 18, 2017

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM / W. Keith & Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery

Internationally acclaimed, Los Angeles-based painter, Salomon Huerta will discuss how the creative process is linked with one's identity and surroundings. Raised in East LA’s Ramona Gardens housing projects, Huerta received a full scholarship to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he graduated with highest honors, and went on to receive an Masters in Fine Arts from UCLA. Previously best known for his series of paintings depicting anonymous subjects who sit or stand with their backs to the viewer, followed by paintings of the facades of unassuming color-saturated, suburban homes stripped of individuality, and then, larger than life-sized, masked, Lucha Libre wrestlers, Huerta now unveils his newest body of work: The Boxer Series. Huerta’s distorted and distraught faces of celebrity, and not-so-famous, boxers continue his examination of social identity, this time, by contrasting these powerful figures, with the reminder that they are in turn, intrinsically linked with violence. Huerta takes cues from his environment and its relationship to his identity as points of creative enterprise. He will discuss how his painting – primarily portraiture – distills elements of traditional portraiture with modern social and cultural scrutiny. While his distinct bodies of work can be linked through their shared investigations and considerations of identity and place, his work remains engaged in a delicate balance between color and brushwork, and an unassuming intimacy that provokes self-reflexivity in its viewers. 

Co-Sponsored by: College of Environmental Design, Kellogg University Art Gallery, Department of Ethnic & Women’s Studies, GEMS Club, Mexican American Student Association, URBAN-Los Angeles / Inland Empire, Graduate Planning Student Association, and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC).