The art of self-portraiture is a brave endeavour. Finding balance between making it look genuine without falling into complacency or self-denigration is not an easy task.
Publishing a work of art and making it visible to others’ eyes is always a courageous act, but even more so when it is a self-portrait. And when a self-portrait is nude, it can feel like the equivalent of undressing in public.
I want to acknowledge everyone who has dared to do so, artists and non-artists. In one way or another, they have contributed to the evolution of the way the human body is perceived.
To pay tribute to those who have dared, I will publish a series of articles to showcase self-portrait works that have particularly touched me.
To begin, this painting by artist Chantal Joffe. I find it so easy to identify with this image! Looking at this self-portrait, it appears to me like a reflection, a mirror of my own feelings towards my body.
She has her head hanging down, which is exactly how I feel. There is too much discomfort and uncertainty in me to be able to lift my head and look straight forward with confidence.
My inner reality is cramped. I do not have the impression that I have much space in which to breathe.
The pale body seems to sway, adding a sense of instability. I recognize myself in the barely sketched features, as I’ve often felt like I’m only a rough draft of myself; an awkward outline that I have not yet managed to complete.
Nothing in this image seeks to please or seduce, and yet in the vulnerability of this nude self-portrait, there is an appeal for tenderness and caring, and a deep sense of humanity. Thank you, Chantal Joffe, for clearly expressing the emotions of so many women who are uncomfortable with their bodies!
Chantal Joffe undertook a year-long series of self-portraits of her face in 2018 which is well worth the visit. Sometimes sharing our face, in any state, is just as vulnerable as showing our bodies.