Susan Aldworth anatomises the portrait

Fiona by Susan Aldworth, 2012 © Courtesy of Susan Aldworth and G V Art Gallery London
Fiona by Susan Aldworth, 2012 © Courtesy of Susan Aldworth and G V Art Gallery London

The portrait as a genre may not feel like it has too many options for doing things a little differently, but Susan Aldworth’s The Portrait Anatomised creates a whole new dimension for it. Opening at the National Portrait Gallery on the 7th March 2013, the exhibition is the gallery’s bid to display contemporary portrait in addition it’s significant archive of historical work.

Aldworth has been developed the exhibition using some fairly unconventional means giving it a very unique take on portraiture. Depicting three sitters who have epilepsy and using a combination of digital photography, medical brain scans and electroencephalograms (EEG) she has created very different views of human form.

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9 monochrome prints make up each of the 2 metre high portraits to show thee sitters, Elisabeth, Fiona and Max, inside and out. The Portrait Anatomised explores the connections between body and mind with glimpses of eyes linking up through the nervous system to the brain, ears and feet.

In the process of creating the prints, Susan poses the question, how does epilepsy affect their life? discovering that Elisabeth’s fertility has been affected, Max worries about the periods of blankness and Fiona feels that the stigma attached with epilepsy has an impact on her ability to be open about it with others.

Susan Aldworth, Artist, says: ‘I explore and question the relationship between mind and body. My recent work has focused on the relationship between the physical brain and our sense of self and references both neuroscience and philosophy.’

Susan Aldworth’s The Portrait Anatomised exhibition will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery until the 1st December 2013. Admission is free.