Anders Birger | Painting
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Portrait VS Portrait

My good friend Antonia Eraud asked me a while back if I would be interested in shooting a portrait for her website. Antonia is a talented multidisciplinary artist working with art, therapy, workshops, and coaching. In short – she has a creative soul and eyes that see deeper than most.

In return I asked Antonia to do a painted portrait of me, as I’m a big fan of her work. A few days ago we finally managed to align calendars and met in Antonia’s studio in Hackney Downs where I got started on creating a portrait reflective of her work and personality. Antonia is bright and shining and almost always have a big smile on her face, so it was easy. Her multi-coloured imagery reflects her personality and luckily there were enough light coming through from the outside to keep things bright. We worked intensely for an hour, inside and outside and I’m very happy with the result!

Then Antonia took over and through a series of 5, 10 and 15 minutes intervals, she created an extraordinaire series of portraits, one deeper than the next.

The last – and my favourite – one manages to capture me in a way where I recognise a mental state much more than an outer shell. Here are blue and red colours mixing beautifully, showing my hot-headedness and my energy, all still resting on a deep blue background of tranquillity, while a creative energy flows through the image and comes out as visions and ideas.

It is truly fascinating seeing your self through someone else’s looking glass and it’s clear to me that this drawing could only be done by someone that has really been observing you through time and has drawn (so to say) their own conclusions on who and what they think you are.

The whole experience of being seen by someone, instead of being the seer, was as strong as it was meditative.

It is difficult to compare the two different approaches as the coal captures a whole different layer than the split second so characteristic of a camera. The feeling of sinking into yourself as you’re locked in position for 20 minutes, away from online distractions and really being seen is something I would love to be able to translate into my own work. I would love to be able to find the peacefulness of the situation and thereby enabling my subjects to project themselves onto the film and into the picture.

In a world where portraits are mostly shot on the go, often with no more than minutes to create impact, it is rarely possible to let the subject shine through. I act as an interpreter, creating and altering personalities to fit my own agenda, whether this is a story, a client or even just a looming deadline.

The camera, just as the pencil, isn’t a conveyer of truth. It is a tool to create the world that you see.

We need to be aware about this in order to gain full potential of our work.

See more of Antonia’s work here