November 14, 2013

"Something Extra Burns Through His Finished Portrait"

For a recent issue of The New Yorker, Jason Seiler painted this extraordinary portrait of writer Allan Gurganus. Shortly after it was published, Gurganus had this to say about what he saw: 

"First I was elated to see any painting of myself in `The New Yorker’. But I at once understood that Jason Seiler’s portrait captured something so personal I wondered if he had been spying on me at home. Seiler’s deft and liquid touch seems charged with a humane Sargent-like economy. The brushwork is as direct as opulent. He caught a central quality that’s as hard to describe as it is easy to recognize.
    Though Seiler founded his image on various photographic materials showing my aged face, something extra burns through his finished portrait.  I can only identify that quality as a secret wish of mine to reach then please and then to finally surprise or shock and change my readers.  How Jason Seiler digitally decoded then preserved quality, I do not understand. That he got it for all time, I promise you."

It's often that an illustrator gets a portrait commission. However, it's rare they ever hear feedback from the subject, especially so beautifully written.

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