THOMAS REES – Thomas is a journalist and editor who lives on Golborne Road and works with me on my magazine, SMACK.
I met Thomas when I was about 19 working in a bar in Nottinghill called 192. It was frequented by luminaries from the arts (all branches) and Thomas was a regular. Much later (I’m now 45) I met Thomas again when I opened my studio on Portobello Road.
Thomas is a finely tuned human by which I mean he is alive to the stories of other people. He is interested in everyone (and devastatingly disdainful of others who he might describe as a ‘long drink of water’ – for Thomas this is as low as you can get. It means you are a bore) and he has created a kind of personal republic in which everyone; beggar, thief, magnate, artist are equal.
Normally Thomas wears glasses but because they were reflecting badly I asked him to take them off. Suddenly he looked naked. I chose this picture because it surprised me – who am I to tell you who my sitters are through an arbitrary selection of one image? If I’m surprised then so much the better.
We look at portraits as objects or, in other words, a literal depiction of the human they represent. But are they not something quite different? A psychologist told me that when someone with ‘body dysmorphia‘ looks at themselves in a picture or mirror they see not purely what is reflected but a comparison with every physiognomy they have ever encountered and the ideals of their imaginations. In this way, I would assert, when we look at a picture of another face the image which is formed in the mind is coloured according to one’s own psychology.
Perhaps the portrait that you are looking at should really be considered as a ‘one off’ because portraits can only be viewed on an individual basis according to one’s own experience and influences. Perhaps all images are just starting points for the imagination and should no longer be regarded as having universal significance.
To be continued
The process of making a portrait seems to be very fluid and perhaps never finished.
As the series continues I will expand on this psychological theory of portraiture and how we, the viewers, engage with it.
Please click on ‘best seen in full’ (bottom left) to view correctly.