Once a year, Australians gather around art with a degree of passion usually reserved for the footy. The locus of this buzz is portraiture. With their strange intimacy, portraits are magnetic. In his new collection ‘An Imaginary Life’, Peter Bainbridge proves this. A homage to the genre, while still a fresh take - ‘An Imaginary Life’ reminds us of the magic of coming face to face with who we dream we are.
In ‘An Imaginary Life’, there is a smattering of the well-known and the enigmatic. Bainbridge profiles comic legend Buster Keaton, alongside the anonymous “Nude in the Sand”. Despite this however, his subjects all command our attention. The graceful nonchalance of “The Stripper” stands with the same defiance as “Elizabeth”, a rendition of Queen Elizabeth I. Bainbridge’s figures dance across the page, luring us towards their dream worlds.
Portraiture charts a rich history. From a way to record appearances, through to a dive into the psyche - how we portray people is bound to who we want to be. Bainbridge knows this - in one moment he evokes Brett Whiteley’s iconic style, while still leaving room for the viewer to discover themselves. Art is about becoming who we long to be and with ‘An Imaginary Life’, we can play make-believe all day.