Themes of memory, trauma, and historical unconscious are recurrent throughout Stephen G. Rhodes’s work. Rhodes’s Vacant Portraits use as their reference point historical portrait paintings in which the sitter is depicted in front of an abstract background. By removing the image of the sitter, Rhodes’s paintings record only a lingering atmosphere of spectral presence, negating the past and suggesting a haunted present. The small photographs placed in the corners are of abandoned sites in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the barren rooms and anonymous detritus redoubling the vacant aura.


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