Roman Trompe loeil
"Paula Gillen's photographic series Roman Trompe –l’oeil is a profound take on what it means to be a subject in an empire, a viewer of figures who dominate us, but who will also become historical subjects." - Richard Sober 2017
Roman Trumpe-l'œil imagery is based on a 1945 book - “Roman Portraits - Phaidon Edition.” This book features1st to 3rd century Roman sculptures photographed by J. Schneider-Lengyel. Lengyel’s tightly cropped graphic images of Roman heads bring the sculpture into an intimate viewing space. His use of chiaroscuro lighting captures the dimensionality and naturalism of these Roman sculptures. The bookplates are richly printed photogravures and beautiful to behold.
My process is to copy Schneider-Lengyel images and digitally merge them with portraits of the Trump administration, his family, and people in the news associated with the Trump administration. These hybrid images are transformative and duplicitous. Contemporary figures frozen in monumental marble yet at the same time fragile and human. This surreal viewpoint allows up to consider the Trump administration apart from the daily steam of media images we are bombarded with. This series reminds us that like it or not, Trump is now part of history and is a historical figure. Regardless of politics and anxiety over this administration, my work reminds us that like the portraits of powerful Roman leaders, Trump too will pass, into the past.