Andrew Hunt’s Portraits from the Market is a work in progress. Exhibiting at Yorkshire Artspace's Persistence Works, the Sheffield-based portrait painter is still working on his labour-intensive, hyper-real pieces as the show opens to the public. It’s part of Ways of Making, in which artists have been invited to show their working to the public. You might say it’s an investigation into the role of an artist's process, or you might say it’s a cool peek behind the curtain at some truly awe-inspiring work.
At about 6 foot tall, each portrait is a study in minute detail on a massive scale. Hunt has collaborated with photographer Chris Saunders, who documented their subjects during a one-day photo booth session at the Moor Market. (At such a scale, these aren’t the sort of portraits you’d happily sit for.) On some of the unfinished pieces you can see the grid Hunt uses to break down the task into more manageable chunks.
Hunt faithfully paints the details of people's faces with breath-taking precision (you’re almost sure the highlights and shadows on a forehead will move as you move around the room) yet that doesn’t mean they’re flat or obvious. Every single face tells a story, every eye and blemish and expression is totally convincing. And the choice of the Moor Market – a place that has become pop culture shorthand for "Sheffieldness" – means that the exhibition is as much about place as it is about people.
By its nature, the exhibition warrants more than one visit. Take the time to be struck by Hunt's technique, then look a little deeper at the portrait he paints of the city.
Exhibition launch evening:
24 May, 5-8:30pm, free – register now
Gallery open Thursday 11am-7pm, Friday-Sunday 11am-4pm
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- Lucy Holt
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