Portrait 2.0 – Northern Virginia Art Beat – Kevin Mellema

Hells bells! Thank you so much, Kevin Mellema, for this review of Portrait 2.0.

“Victoria F. Gaitán provides the show stealer here. At roughly 6-by-12 feet, the monumental scale of Gaitán’s triptych head shot demands and holds the viewer’s attention. Of course, the brownish black substance flowing out of the subject’s mouth has a good bit to do with that as well.

The three images show a young, attractive platinum blond woman staring back at the viewer without the faintest hint of emotion. There’s nowhere to hide when you make a face six feet tall. We’re left hanging with absolutely no clue as to what is going on here nor her role in it.

The first image has her staring back at us. She blinks in the second and resumes the dispassionate stare down in the third, resulting in an expanded, even cinematic, sense of time and action. With the passing of time, the subject’s inaction becomes a form of willful action.

We can’t determine if the rather vile substance flowing out of her mouth was ingested, or expelled. Is it the result of a chocoholic’s frenzied binge? Or perhaps the symptom of a perforated ulcer or some other medical disaster?

Similarly, we can’t say if this is something that she has done to herself, or something that has been done to her. Despite an overwhelming supply of fairly disgusting graphic punch, we’re left with virtually no real information.

The one, and possibly only thing we can ascertain for sure, is that this is one strong, self-assured young lady. It’s the sort of inner strength we’re naturally attracted to, and as such the viewer is simultaneously left both repulsed, and attracted to Gaitán’s image of her. Leaving the viewer unable to resolve the tension between the two states.

If the source of this oozing mess is something that’s been done to her, she is defiantly giving her victimizer zero pleasure from her pain. If this is something she’s done to herself, she is completely at ease with it, and has zero intention of making any apology for her actions. Either way, the psychological balance of power is irrevocably tipped in her favor.” – Kevin Mellema.

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