Read this post, and we can’t guarantee you’ll ever look at Victorian portraiture the same way again. Nor can we guarantee you’ll be able to sleep tonight. That’s because Chad Wys’s paintings are, in a word, terrifying.
Wys, a recent MFA grad, takes digital images of Victorian art and defaces the bejesus out of them. In the Nocturne series (shown above), he uses pixels as a paintbrush to blot out subjects’ necks and foreheads, streak black over their rosy cheeks, and summon his inner Jackson Pollock, dripping big, violent blobs of "paint" on their quaint little button noses. What’s left are portraits melting into gloomy abstraction -- people reduced to eyes, ears, mouths, and the occasional glint of armor. You can imagine how frightening this stuff would look hung up in a room, like ghosts climbing out of the walls. If you think it’s creepy when a portrait sitter's eyes follow you around an art gallery, try escaping these. And uh, sweet dreams.
The point? Wys explains:
In selecting largely Victorian imagery -- or even Romantic or Baroque images from history -- I'm negating much of the art's purpose: which is to be beautiful and realistic. Not only that, I focus exclusively on portraiture in the Nocturne series because that's the most formal subject matter of all (aside from religious imagery, perhaps). We pay such reverence to portraiture in art history, so to behave irreverently toward these formal renderings disrupts virtually every function of the original work.
Awesome. Now somebody please get that lady’s eyes off of us. Pleeeeeeease.
[Images courtesy of Chad Wys]