ANGELS AS MODELS
The project “Angels as Models” started as a creative accident. Children in Oncology department were often too tired and weak to participate in evening art workshops. Nevertheless they were bright and inteligent personalities so I asked hazardly if they would like to engage in art process in a passive way, as models. It demanded a certain level of mutual trust and acquiantance, as it was a question most people never hear in their lives. The experience of becoming a portrait model in an old-fashioned way of painting and observing requires the utmost luxury of our age: time. The tragic and fortunate coincidence of reality in Oncology department is that nobody has anywhere to hurry. Treatments are long and exhausting so everyone is forced to slow down. The experience of model-artists relationship can be linked to the ancient tantric practice of eye gazing, which can be transformed into respectful attentiveness, benevolent contemplation of other person. The artist respects and distinguishes emotional and physical traits with admiration and care while depicting it. The art of portrait is a symbiosis between the artist and the model. Skill is important on artist's side, and so is patience and trust of a model. In the times of countless selfies we all know our best angles and representative smiles, but the collaboration of artists and models has a different value, it shows every vulnerability of a person. The sitting person is not allowed to move and talk very much, so the person is forced to think. In the process of sitting, various expressions and feelings cross the face of a model. The artist is often privileged to see the hidden personality traits of the model: the cynics become romantic, the stoic become gentle, the happy become melancholic. Then comes the moment of truth when the model gets to see the result of meditative patience and artistic efforts. It can help at moments when the model feels insecure or depressed about his/her appearance (in cases of of illness or old age, for example). It serves as a tangible proof of person's outer and inner beauty because it is perceived and captured on paper. The long and painstaking painting process itself serves as proof of worthiness of a model: people in doubt receive an evidence of their value as human beings. “Do you see what I see?” I ask, while the model ponders at the drawing.
Eventually, other kids and friends joined the project as well.
They are currently fighting about who gets painted first and how often!