The above portrait is a composite of hundreds of photos of different people. The artist, Cecilia Avendaño, travels around the world and has people pose for photos. She uses these photos to create a database containing images of individual physical features. She then painstakingly creates composite images from these individual elements, giving her portraits an otherworldly feel.
Cecilia Avendaño: Enfermedades preciosas
This work is from her series entitled Enfermedades preciosas, which means ‘precious infirmities’. The non-existent people in Cecilia Avendaño’s portraits are Frankenstein’s monsters that have been stitched together from odds and ends of different people. They do look strange, yet there is also a beauty to them. As such, the artwork celebrates the imperfections and ‘infirmities’ that make each one of us unique.
Many of her works come with accompanying text. The text that comes with this artwork reads: “Man is a hungering gaze that seeks another image behind everything he sees, that original image that we lack.”
Describing her process in an interview with Kim Triebsee, the artist states:
My characters are invented. They come from the use and mix of different images that ultimately respond to my imagination. These imaginary personalities tell us something that, although inherent in any image, must be completed by each viewer who contributes their own stories and desires. Each image is related to something nonexistent, something that I cannot fully find in the real world. I don’t establish a symbolic relationship with my models as it takes hundreds of pictures to create each character. That relationship progressively evolves when the definitive face of my characters start to emerge from that mixture of images and digital intervention.Cecilia Avendaño’s Beautiful Strangers: Interview
Cecilia Avendaño: E.MERGE
The following painting (also included in my article Color Series 1: Blue Art) is from her E.MERGE series, the title of which can carry three meanings:
- The E in E.MERGE can refer to the use of graphics editing software.
- The MERGE and can refer to the process of joining together the features of different people.
- The whole word EMERGE can refer to the new identity that emerges from the process.
One thing to note is that while the two young women are presented as having very delicate features and a demure demeanor, their hands are quite large and have coarse, veined skin. These clasped hands at the bottom of the painting reveal a mostly-hidden strength and sense of solidarity.
Mini-bio: Chilean artist Cecilia Avendaño Bobillier was born in Santiago in 1980 and studied photography at the University of Chile. She is affiliated with Isabel Croxatto Galleria.
This section includes discussion questions, an art challenge and links to online photo galleries and websites.
Cecilia Avendaño Bobillier: Artist & Gallery Websites
To view the images at a higher resolution (2048 x 1365), you can go to the following galleries:
- The painting at the top of the page has the quote: “Man is a hungering gaze that seeks another image behind everything he sees, that original image that we lack.” What do you suppose this quote means and how does this quote refer to the portrait?
- Many portraits tend to feature very attractive people. Similarly advertisements do this even more often. To what extent do the portrayals of beautiful people in advertisements and artwork lead to people to unrealistically evaluate their own appearance?
- How can artists combat the aforementioned problem (or is it ‘not their business’ or not a problem?)
Cut out images of faces in magazine, cut them into individual elements and combine them (digitally or on a piece of paper) to create a composite face.
photos & text by longzijun
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