Rebecca Szeto debuts beautiful new paintbrush portraits
"Re-forming beauty and value"
American artist Rebecca Szeto has created a stunning collection of 'paintbrush art', which uses reclaimed old oil brushes to emanate one of the masters of the Spanish Golden Age of art – Velázquez. The idea occurred to Szeto, almost a decade ago, when she was immersed in her faux-finishes business, which in her words "essentially entailed making new things look old".
During her endeavours in this business, Szeto admits she piled on a lot of eco-guilt. She amassed high piles of junk, and discarded materials along the way, which opened her eyes to a new way of thinking, and ultimately spurred her on to reimagine the old items and tools she employed in her work. In her own words, she describes the theory :
"These works play with notions of re-forming beauty and value, offering a critique on consumerism, women's work, and a curious entanglement of class dynamics in Leisure & Labor – Trash & Treasure. I use humble, end-of-life, mass-produced materials inspired by my experience as a faux finisher and initially by Velázquez's 17th century painting, Las Meninas."
The wooden handles of the old brushes are carved and painted in the style of Velázquez's 'Maid's of Honour' and the brush hairs below form the textured bottom half of the gown-adorned ladies. Velázquez original painting is a cerebral and complex creation that has been extensively analysed by art historians. It raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted. It has been hailed as "the true philosophy of the art."
"The paintbrush is self-referential, acting as both subject and object. It refers to the history of painting, through the medium of paint, using its own tool." Szeto says of her unique method which is every bit as self-aware as its inspiration.