Henry Asencio, Haven, after 2000
In great contrast, this portrait of a woman, painted around 100 years after the Sargent photo (my last post), provides its viewers with no answers about the figure depicted. Unlike the Sargent painting, this work leaves the name and social class of the woman it depicts a complete mystery. Rather than facing and glancing at the viewer, she looks down, as if lost in her own thoughts, loose chunks of hair partially covering her face. Unlike Sargent, Asencio represents his female subject without great detail, making use of loose brush strokes and choosing not to represent her as she actually appears.
Finally, and most significantly, Asencio makes us of two different styles in this portrait, fusing them together to make his own. While Sargent’s Countess stands in front of an opulent background, that depicts a location actually in existence, Asencio’s mysterious woman sits in front of a background of pure abstraction, invoking the style of Abstract Expressionism. The background is timeless, as it is not a location at all. The combination of portraiture and abstract expressionism present Asencio’s unique style.
My, how portraits of women have changed.
Last weekend, I saw this painting and others in person, and had the opportunity to speak with the artist himself, at the Exclusive Collections Gallery in Laguna Beach. To read more, click the link below: