Wherefore the Figure, Wherefore the Self

Kyle Staver, Danae and the Parakeet, 2009, oil on linen, 63 x 53 inches (courtes
Kyle Staver, Danae and the Parakeet, 2009, oil on linen, 63 x 53 inches (courtesy of the artist)

Carl Belz considers the challenges of painting the figure and examines the work of Kyle Staver and Anne Harris.

Belz writes: "Of all the subjects available to painting, subjects ranging from stripes and squares to fields of color, from landscape vistas and city streets to ordinary objects close at hand, none is brought to the task of expression with more baggage than the human figure... despite what the figure's been put through in order for painting to accommodate it, the fragmentations and distortions and attenuations, the flattening and reshaping of it into images we may not recognize in the mirror but in which we are nonetheless compelled to acknowledge our reflection. Whatever its story, then, and however it appears, the figure verifies our being in the world and substantiates our claim to possessing identity as an individualized self."