About Rendering Portraits, Alejandro Ratia, art critic

In his essay, “The Cyberspace or the intolerable closeness of being,” Slavoj Žižek analyzes the contemporary confusion between “real life” (RL) and its mechanical simulations, which is not limited to virtual contexts, but, thanks to genetic technology comes to infiltrate the interpretation of biological mechanisms. The living being is manipulable, something (or someone) that can be produced on demand; it has Cyborg potencial and as such, its code is cracked in a three-dimensial image (ours). Within this context, the old artform of the portrait is converted into avatar-maker.

As a painter, Álvaro Díaz-Palacios, is intrigued by the digital dispersion of the human being and its multipresence within a hypertext. When considering going back to painting portraits, you start to wonder where you can locate a seemingly lost essence. The collaboration (and complicity) with his cousin Gonzalo Díaz-Palacios, an expert in digital animation effects, has provided both with a unique tool.

On the same photographical portrait, painter and FX technician work parallel to one another: Álvaro will paint the original photograph upon wood, whereafter Gonzalo will reproduce the lighting conditions of the original photograph and take it into his digital world, where he will superimpose certain effetcs onto the photographed person. This virtual cloud will then become independent and transferred onto methacrylate, to “dress up”, like a second skin, the painted portrait.

This technique involves the use of a reflective sphere that reads the lighting context, which restores the old interest, of painters, for the properties of light, the play of reflections and opacities as an instrument of reading reality or as an invention of the illusory which lead us, curiously enough, to the studies of Gombrich. In books like “Arts and Illusion”, the art historian treats, as does here Álvaro Díaz-Palacios, the term rendering: painting, or interpreting in a credible way, a picture. To render portraits is the name the painter gives his project. The myth of the illusion of resemblance turns out to be a myth raised in the digital world of postmodernism.

Alejandro Ratia, art critic, from “rostros retratos”