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Multiple Personality Portraits Put a Twist on Classical Painting

Korin Faught’s meta-portraits show her subjects’ good sides—all of them, at the same time.

by Shana Nys Dambrot
Oct 25 2016, 4:15pm

Korin Faught: Lost Days (oil on panel, 96 x 48 inches). All works courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery

Traditional technique meets fractured photo-inflected images of modern selfhood in Korin Faught’s hauntingly beautiful “meta-portraits.” The Los Angeles-based artist fuses various perspectives on the same subject into single compositions, in order to suggest the multiplicity of personalities, moods, and emotions that make up a person’s inner life. Her anachronistically patient, advanced technique is heavily influenced by the work of turn of the century American painter John Singer Sargent—as is the carefully evocative old-timey aesthetic of her styling. While not exactly an avant-garde icon, such is the strength of Sargent’s hold on Faught’s imagination, that his brushwork inspired a counter-revolution in her studio: “I’m not at all distracted by the so-called avant-garde or post-technique movement,” she says, and in fact her new show, Lost Days (on view through October 29 at Corey Helford Gallery in LA) is a triumph of technical and cheeky dark romanticism that is anything but Pop.

2 Korin Faught Great White oil on panel 72 X 36 inches.jpg

Korin Faught: Great White (oil on panel 72 x 36 inches)

“I'm influenced by film and more specifically, modern horror movies,” offers Faught. “I also have some writings by Carl Jung, and a collection of love letters between Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin on my bedside table.” Factor in her affection for post-Impressionism and penchant for narrative allegory, and her paradoxical paintings make perfect sense. The more the viewer contemplates their wavering dimensions and delicate realism, the more the metaverse the paintings inhabit encroach upon our own single-plane consciousness. Expressing psychological states of melancholy, migraine, extended bed-rest, insomnia, motherhood, and innocence on the cusp of being lost, Faught articulates her idea that these are not only the many potential states of mind of her subjects, but of everyone, all the time.

3 Korin Faught Death Pillow oil on panel 38 x 36 inches.jpg

Korin Faught: Death Pillow (oil on panel 38 x 36 inches)

“To a very large degree all of my paintings are self-portraits,” Faught admits—something Jung would doubtless agree with. “I have painted male subjects in the past, but it’s true, I do prefer to paint women. My personal history is matriarchal, as I was raised by two women. It is my feeling that because of my lack of masculine influences in childhood, my perspective is unique and bound to have a deeper resonance in the feminine experience.” And while it’s true that the multiple postures and body languages of the figures do convey the complexity of individual consciousness, the subjects’ faces are more often contemplative luminous masks rather than emotive, leaving the viewer free to interpret their specific thoughts for themselves.

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Korin Faught: Lost Self Portrait (oil on panel, 8 x 8 inches)

Faught’s technical process relies on photography for reasons of experimentation and logistics. She casts, dresses, poses, and styles her subjects, generating hundreds of photos per exhibition, after which her largest paintings might take up to several months to complete. “I often wipe out or paint over sections repeatedly until I’m satisfied. It can be shocking to visitors when they see me literally erase an entire section after hours of work.” Then again, these panels are all about welcoming every variation into the family of the self.

5 Korin Faught Bed Rest oil on panel 42 x 36 inches.jpg

Korin Faught: Bed Rest (oil on panel, 42 x 36 inches)

6 Korin Faught Tangled oil on panel 36 x 26 inches.jpg

Korin Faught: Tangled (oil on panel, 36 x 26 inches)

7 Korin Faught Wandering oil on panel 72 x 36 inches.jpg

Korin Faught: Wandering (oil on panel, 72 x 36 inches)

Lost Days is on view through Saturday, October 29 at Corey Helford Gallery in the DTLA Arts District.

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