Nicholas Sinclair–Artist’s Portraits–Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, 4 June 2014

I wanted to see this exhibition because I had studied Nicholas Sinclair as part of my C&G Portrait module in 1994. In particular, his portraits of politicians shown at the National Portrait Gallery and subsequent book, “The Acceptable Face”. It is interesting to note the difference in the styles of this earlier work and his “Artist’s Portraits”; the politicians being photographed in the Place of Westminster or his flat, whereas the artist’s were shot at or near their own studios. The contrast is shown below, comparing the portraits of artist Sir Peter Blake and the Marquis of Bath.

The introduction to the Pallant House Exhibition says; “…Sinclair’s work is characterised by intimate understanding of his subjects and careful choice of setting and pose.”  He describes the moment of connection  “……either consciously or unconsciously , the sitter reveals something about themselves that the viewer recognises and can relate to.”

Sinclair has received the Hasselblad Master award for his contribution to the Art of Photography.

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Sir Peter Blake with the waxwork of Sonny Liston (Artist’s Portraits) and the Marquis of Bath (Acceptable Face)

Overall Impression

I like the square format of these portraits. It must make shooting so much easier when you are freed from the choice of how to frame your sitter. I counted about 19 or 20 portraits in the collection. Painters, sculptors and photographers all were included but I’m afraid to say the only person I recognised was Gillian Wearing. With the exception of the portrait of sculptor Sir Edward Paolozzi (who only allowed him 3 minutes to make the portrait) it was obvious that Sinclair had taken the time to relax and get to know his sitters. I like the way he has included their work as a compositional element in the portraits. The selection was well balanced i.e. not formulaic  – each portrait showed something about the artist, there was no doubt that these were creative individuals.

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Sir Anthony Caro                                                   

Paula Rego

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