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

Save Your Cart
Share Your Cart
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    Thank you for your enquiry!

    Your message was sent and one of our Admin team will respond as soon as possible.

    If you have an urgent question, please call our front desk on 020 7811 3070.

    For more information on how we store and use your data please view our privacy policy here. You can unsubscribe from our newsletters at any time by clicking on the links below the emails we send you.

    Essential Information Before Your Visit:
    Click Plan Your Visit for full information on upcoming closures.

    Register for email updates
    Be the first to hear about the latest Saatchi Gallery exhibitions, events, offers and news