A faceless identity

There have been those times in my life when the thought of running off to the Kho Phi Phi Islands in the middle of the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand (which by the way, IS Paradise on earth) has crossed my mind … no mobile phones, no computers, no Facebook or Twitter … nobody knows who you are. But there’s a reason I’ve stayed put:  the notion of being an anonymous face, while deliciously tempting, is also deeply depressing.

Spanish artist Manolo Valdés has grappled with similar questions in his painting Botticelli Como Pretexto.  Here he takes Sandro Botticelli’s 15th century Portrait of a Young Man, in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence and uses strokes of thick white paint and colored rough burlap to remove all traces of identity from the sitter to create a contemporary image.  The traditional techniques of the Old Masters are discarded to fashion an entirely novel work whose only ties to the past are the color of the sitter’s cloak and robes on his back.
Photo credit: © Sotheby’s. The present Portrait to be sold in the Contemporary sale, London, 30 June 2011, lot 155, estimate ₤180,000-250,000 | sold ₤301,250