Due to the great number of self-portraits, many self-portrait-painting artists presented us with a complete self-portrait autobiography. Looking at their paintings in chronological order, you can observe the changes in the artist’s face, personality and emotional world through their technical development.
Dezső Czigány painted a great deal of (about 70) self-portraits during his career. Czigány often depicted himself as being someone else. This can be seen in his pictures Nevető önarckép (Laughing self-portrait) and Önarckép csuhában (Self-portrait in frock) as well. It is interesting that an object in the first one (a jar) often appears on his still lifes, while you can see him as a monk in the second picture, which is also a returning element in his art.
Context has a great importance: in what environment the artist depicts himself, if he places himself in some idealized role, what or who are around him, what colours he uses and what objects he displays.
The brush and material usage of an artist changes a lot during the years. In certain cases and certain painters, it is worth studying this process especially on their self-portraits, because the painter is always at hand as a model and there is time to study the lights and shades, lines and textures. Moreover, this genre is a convenient tool for observing and analysing themselves.
This can be seen well on the technical and material-using changes of László Hegedüs’s self-portraits. While his watercolour paintings make a more clear-out and airy impression, his oil painting makes just the opposite effect at close range. In his self-portrait of 1985, the face and its surroundings become more statuesque and stand out in relief due to the paint in many layers.
It is also an interesting aspect related to the technical change that how the same face changes when the artist uses very different techniques.
The following pictures were created by István Varga Hajdu. The first one was made by pastel and pencil, the second one is a tint-drawing and the third one is a lino-cut. Owing to the technique, there is a possibility for refining the cast of features with colours and the pastel tool on the first one, while more rugged lines and stronger shadows play the leading roles on the tint-drawing and in the case of the lino-cut, the stronger and more characteristic lines are highlighted exclusively.
With the aid of self-portraits, the artist is able to create closer relations between the artist and the people who view his/her work. The features become examinable, emotions can be identified on the artist’s face in the picture, which can be reflected on, and one can attach emotions to both the painting and the artist.
Bibliography and applied resources: as listed in the Hungarian text.
Translated by Zita Aknai