Kim Hart is currently making paintings on canvas, using acrylics. While the work could easily and happily fall into place within the tradition of portrait painting with regard to Western notions of such a discipline, there are idiosyncrasies to be found that subvert certain orthodoxies. There is a seeming contradiction in the genesis and completion of each painting in that the artist acknowledges the impossibility of objectivity in contemporary portraiture but nonetheless attempts to make paintings devoid of sentimentality. By focusing on the vulnerable and exposed qualities manifest in the subject, the intention is to draw the audience closer and elicit an empathetic and if possible, a sympathetic response.
In direct contradiction to the dispassionate stance of the Post Modern, Kim Hart intends to involve and discomfort the viewer, to the extent that looking becomes an emotional strain. Without the emotional safety that the ironic arguably affords, the audience is initially knocked slightly off balance and then this is further aggravated by the physical scale of the work. This use of large canvasses is deliberate for another reason. Because of their size, the portraits work on a representational level at a remove from the canvas, but on closer inspection, the image echoes the ability of the eye and the camera to zoom in on the subject to the degree that it is rendered indefinable.
This parallels Kim's concern with the relationship between the flesh and the self and continues to be a significant factor in the development of her approach to making portraits. In addition, in employing a white and therefore neutral ground, the works attempt to get to grips with the respective qualities of the mug shot and photo-booth snap, both universally familiar and defying any specific interpretation. By rejecting the use of visual props and their accompanying symbolism, subtext and context, the artist forces the audience into a position of responsibility and accountability with regard to that familiar concept: no man is an island. It is possibly this unflinching documentation of truth that defines Kim Hart's work: that it is characterised by sympathy but not overarching sentiment. Here there is no theatrical manipulation or tugging of heartstrings - the people speak for themselves.All images are © Kim Hart