Selected works by Lisa Wilkens

Lisa Wilkens
Prevented Portrait: Myself


Lithograph on paper

84 x 60 cm

Lisa Wilkens calls her works “prevented portraits”, and the title, initially at least, seems apposite. Her lithograph, Prevented Portrait: Myself, is a portrait prevented from doing what portraiture was always designed to do: to show the face. We see the back of a short-haired human head in a curved-edged frame. The levelness of its pose suggests a sitting for a passport photo or head shot, and its suit jacket, smart shirt and neatly combed hair imply another kind of ‘straightness’ – a sense of the conventional, of the straight and narrow. The generic associations of the clothing are carried through in (what we see of ) the head itself; its hidden individuality makes it as interchangeable as any face in the crowd. This, then, is a portrait that swerves away from the specific; a kind of anti-portrait. And yet a turned head – familiar from works by Vermeer or Richter – suggests something else too: absorption. Wilkens’ lithographic process, requiring a steady hand and focused eye, is mimicked in the turned head’s evident attention at something we can’t see; the precision of her description (the feathered strands of hair, with its slick sheen) can’t elucidate the head’s mystery. This is a self-portrait that hides itself in the thickets of its making.

Text by Ben Street

Lisa Wilkens's Biography

Lisa Wilkens
Born in 1978, Berlin, Germany
Lives and works near Cambridge, UK


Temporary Residence, Aid & Abet, Kettles Yard, Cambridge

Brief Permanence, 100 Regent St, Cambridge

New Contemporaries, S1 Artspace and Site Gallery, Sheffield
Sketchbook Project, Brooklyn Art Libary, New York
New Contemporaries, ICA london

Farbwerte /Schwarzrotgold(colour values /blackredgold), Berlin and Shanghai

Anonymezeichner (Anonymous Drawers), Bl√ľtenwei√ü Gallery, Berlin

Haut, Falten, Beutel (Skin, Folds, Bags), Moniaherbst, Berlin