Artist Profile

PORTRAITURE IN NON-OBJECTIVE ART

LUCY: JUSTINE, DID YOU EXPECT CONTROVERSY?

Justine: I knew there wouldn’t be other portraits like mine in the award. There were of course portraits that obscured the face, or rendered somebody quite vaguely. My work, in seeking to portray the relationship between my grandmother and myself, took it to that next step, by not including a recognisable face. When the Sydney Morning Herald contacted me, I thought they wanted a little story in the art pages as they would with any photographic or art awards. When I woke up the next morning, to find a controversy on the front page, it was a bit of a shock.

Kon: Is portraiture possible in non-objective art?

Absolutely not. It depends on the definitions of portraiture and non-objective art. Portraiture is perhaps fluid and porous, but nonobjective art is fairly strict. There is a difference between non-objective art, concrete art and abstraction. The strictest version of non-objective art is probably Theo van Doesburg’s of 1930, in which he rejects intuition and personal touch. He wanted to exclude every aspect of the appearance of the real world within the work. So that to me prevents the notion of portraiture existing in non-objective art. I have no problem at all with portraiture existing within abstraction, and I would see ‘Maternal Line’ as an abstract work rather than a non-objective work. Portraiture requires a portrayal

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