GO Arts

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Tag: each getting better and better at capturing his towering height and gracious humor: an unmemorable watercolor leads to a 1990 oil with upward look and direct gaze


Artists focus on themselves in “Self-Portrait” at Tacoma’s Brick House gallery

Peter MacDonald, "Self-Portrait 2003." Courtesy image.

Amid the snow and ice, a couple of Tacoma galleries stood staunchly open last week – and Brick House was one of them. The upper downtown gallery had just opened a self-portrait show by 20 established local and regional artists, and while there are a few unremarkable works, most take on the topic of self from unusual viewpoints.

Two of those come from Alan Hopkins: The Bay area artist uses himself as a metaphor for larger human issues with inventive grace. In “Painting Through It,” Hopkins positions an iconographic, waist-up nude of himself behind a thick wire screen. Despite interesting composition (a Buddhist-inspired pose, with arms bent at 90 degrees holding a paintbrush and mirror with tapered, delicate fingers) the portrait is static and uninspiring, until you realize that Hopkins has in fact painted it through the screen itself. The crisscrossed wire casts prison-like shadows on Hopkins’ body, the flatness of the portrait takes on a new metaphorical dimension, and paint dabs on the wire blur the boundary line. Read more »