Natasha Bieniek’s painting October is a self-portrait.
‘When we think of historical painting we tend to instantly think of big paintings – profound masterpieces of a considerable grandeur. But during the 16th century another kind of painting became significant: the miniature portrait,’ says Bieniek. ‘These portraits were portable, often resembling medals or pendants. Their purpose was to portray an individual’s characteristics, acting as a keepsake or to provide a representation for a distant viewer. The invention of photography contributed to the decline of the miniature portrait. In my self-portrait October, my objective was to explore the dual aspects of scale and representation in a contemporary manner.
‘Since my self-portrait is only about the size of a matchbox, sections of the painting have been executed with a pin instead of a brush to ensure an accurate and realistic depiction. The normal physical space between the painting and the viewer is forcibly narrowed. This intimacy seeks to form a singular relationship between the viewer and the work. Such un-monumental proportions further address my concerns for what we may consider to be a compelling work of art. Is bigger really better? Instead my intention is that the scale of the painting contributes to the fragility of its content.’