Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Diptych Inside-Out



For the current call-for-entry exhibition I am conducting at the gallery I curate, I challenged artists with two constraints relative to artwork they could submit for the selection process: the format had to be a diptych and the subject matter had to be the self-portrait, one representing the artist ‘from the inside’ and the other the artist ‘from the outside’. The title for this exhibition? Inside-Out, of course. 

Artists could submit as many diptychs as they wanted, in whatever style they wanted, as long as the two works were the same media and dimensions (whether in two or three dimensions or a combination thereof). To be considered a true diptych, they had work as complete individual works when apart but to read as one work when side-by-side or in relation to each other.

The questions I got from artists considering whether they would participate or not were interesting, even revealing. There seems to be much confusion about what exactly constitutes a diptych. For this exercise, a diptych is created when two separate works fit together to create a combined, more elaborated single work, much like two puzzle pieces that abut and when they are joined reveal a more complex image than the pieces do individually.

For a diptych to work, there must be visible connections between the two equally-sized halves. In some pre-Renaissance diptychs of older couples, for instance, men and women were painted in similar tones and hues. They may have had a repeated pattern on a piece of clothing or be seated in a similar, if not the same, environment. The compositions might have mirrored each other, or complemented each other, or the way the features of each were rendered might have established a commonality say of ethnicity or age or temperament…

Another method to create diptychs is to create compositions that flow together when the two separate elements are joined. A gesture, form, colour mass, etc. that at first appears interrupted by the edge of one work may continue from the edge of the second work for instance, or visual elements that float in one may land in the other… The same or similar abstractions and distortions, exaggerations and textures, lines or shapes appearing in both images, or any aspect of the rendering referred to, mirrored, continued or repeated, can be used as the binding or connective tissue linking the two works to make them belong together. whether obviously or subtly.


Some examples of the other diptychs created in response to this challenge can be seen on the Galerie de la Ville Facebook page at facebook.com/galeriedelaville . Better yet, the works will be on display there, at 12001 de Salaberry in Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada, until July 15, 2018.

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