The Opposite of Selfies

Last night I went to the opening of Jack Trolove’s evocative exhibition ‘The Body Remembers’ at Whitespace, which will be showing until the 17th of May.

Trolove’s portraits have an expressionistic quality; visceral brushstrokes of warm oranges and aqua blues across skin brought Toss Woollaston’s Southern landscapes to my mind. The potency of the portraits is in their ambiguity; the way their expressions hint at stories but the paintings leave enough space for an interpretive viewer. Trolove’s bio explains he is interested in ‘in-betweenness’.

What struck me about the paintings was their intimacy, and what they reveal about the self. Close-up, sometimes sleeping, sometimes uncomfortable or pensive, these are expressions and moments we don’t often see except for on the faces of lovers or spouses. These strangers have an intensified proximity to us, without the scaffolding we are used to in public spaces.

Think of the ‘selfie’ and what it conjures about subjectivity in this neoliberal capitalist moment. We are used to constant iterations of the ‘self’ as a facade of your best, most promotable qualities alongside commodities that act as furniture. Designer clothing, ironic and non-ironic branding, gold snake chains, black-rimmed glasses, retro sneakers and dark red lipstick. We are used to the idea that commodities tell us things about our unique selves, and about our worth.

Trolove’s paintings are the opposite of ‘selfies’. Without any adornment, they reveal bodies we don’t show to the world; bodies in pain, in idle moments, or bodies that resist easy recognisability. There is a richness in this.



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