Bettina Von Zwehl


Lamentsbettina2 Miniatures

I began making portraits as a student at the Royal College of Art, where I adopted the 19th-century studio methodology that I first encountered as photographer’s assistant in Rome, working on 10″ x 8″ film with a large-plate camera. As an artist I am drawn to the intensity of the resulting image and the descriptive power of the format. My work is an ongoing enquiry into the possibilities of portraiture and its fine nuances. With each series, I aim to depict psychological states in everyday life using controlled conditions to search for some note of perfect balance in which the sense of an intimate humanity might be revealed.

For almost a decade I have been researching the human profile and the hierarchic approach to portraiture that was applied during the Italian Renaissance. There is an uncanny quality to viewing a person in profile, related to what remains invisible and untold. This method of representation may have a cold, rigid aspect, with no indication of the subject’s true character or emotion. To me it is one of the most powerful ways of representing a person.


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