Susan Aldworth: The Portrait Anatomised

On view at the National Portrait Gallery in London

These are intaglio monotypes, with fibrous elements used to block ink during printing (white areas) and collaged elements.  Brilliant and beautiful.


The fibrous elements represent nerve cells, filaments.  The photo collage elements are layered over rich aquatint black, and monotype has been added where solvents were sprinkled to cut the ink in soft splotches.

3 portraits of individuals with epilepsy.

They are simultaneously scientific and mysterious.

I love them.

Why make these prints and not digital prints?  They possess thing-ness, existence, tactility.  They prove things – images – can loom better out of black aquatint than anything else.

They are luminaries, milagros, shrines.  They are ritualistic and symbolic.  There is a beautiful layered subtlety of black on black spit bite.

It’s a bubbling in the brain, light sparks and flares and shoots along the cells, leaping.

Scale here is everything – they become monumental with 9 prints tiled to form each portrait.

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