In visual arts, the portrait is a depiction of a real person, more precisely her visual representation. To make a portrait of someone means not only to portray her physical features, the exterior, the shell, but also to depict the psychological profile of the person. Given the visual nature of this art form, depicting the exterior is assumed to have priority, even though it is just as important to visually portray the interior, the spirit – in other words, the character traits of the person. It may seem easier for writers to do that job because it is simpler to describe a person in words (especially her psychological traits) than to completely express her by point, line, or color. Let’s just mention Hermann Broch’s meticulous portrayal of Vergil in “Death of Vergil,” or James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus in “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man,” or Hermann Hesse’s Josef Knecht in “The Glass Bead Game”… The self-portrait includes at once self-observation and self-reflection. The title of “Self-portrait” can easily be replaced with “I.” Who am I really? How do I observe and see myself? Does my reflection in the mirror really represent my features the way I imagine them, or do I discover, by delving into myself, aspects of my character that aren’t revealed in my features? How do I observe the relationship between stable and unstable aspects of my character and the visual depiction of my figure… and how much do I even want to display myself truthfully for others to see – these are just a few guidelines that can serve as notes to generate the process of self-portrayal.
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