You can see Colin Davidson’s portrait of Brad Pitt in the Portrait Gallery’s latest special exhibition, “Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze.” The show opens Friday and will be on view through July 2016.
I have no interest in celebrity. Considering my painting is part of the exhibition Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze, I suppose, at first glance, this might seem strange.
When I started my series of large-scale head paintings, I realized immediately that I was preoccupied less with the sitter’s celebrity or achievement and more with their status as a human being. It was a kind of ‘common humanity’ which has linked all my paintings, and was part of the reason I chose to eliminate any visual reference or clue to each subject. In scale, intensity and intention, the sitters have been treated as equals.
So, when I set out to paint Brad Pitt, my interest did not lie with the actor, producer or celebrity. My attention was focused on the human being, the man, the husband, the father, the brother, the son. And, more personally, with my painting partner, my friend. There was a fascination with looking at this icon of the screen as a fellow human being. I was allowed the privilege of witnessing similar vulnerabilities, concerns, questionings which we all share.
And it is in this place of witness where I find the tension that I allow to permeate the work, where our imposed, transient notion of celebrity clashes with the reality and miracle of humanity.
— Colin Davidson