Roman Trumpe loeil
"Paula Gillen's photographic series Roman Trumpe –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
If the Trump Administration and other members of todays political class went to sleep and woke up in 3rd century Rome, they might look in the mirror and see themselves reflected in my hybrid portraits. This series consists of photos of contemporary US political individuals merged with Roman sculptural portraits, damaged, scratched and aged marble. My portraits are not purely photos or sculpture, but a surreal mix. The humanism and gravity of the Roman sculptures are transferred onto the faces of the current political ruling class. Trump as a Roman ruler presents himself full of hubris and ego, but like fallen empires before him the image also references the fragility and transient nature of power.
President Trump and others members of the political ruling class are now part of our shared cultural history. Regardless of politics and anxiety over this administration, like powerful Roman rulers now gone, Trump too will pass, into the past.
Roman Trumpe-l'œil imagery is based on a 1945 book - “Roman Portraits - Phaidon Edition,” that features1st to 3rd century Roman sculptures photographed by J. Schneider-Lengyel. Lengyel’s tightly cropped images of Roman heads bring the subject 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 portraits are metal 11 x 14 inches with a matte surface – they float off the wall with a bracket in back. A deck of cards will be made with 52 portraits of these hybrid portraits.
"Our contemporary motives are just as mysterious and self-defeating as the past's. We are contiguous with everything that is gone. We are history. This moment is already over." New Sentences by Sam Anderson, NYTimes Magazine. 11.11.18
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. - Marcus Annaeus Seneca (54 BC – 39 AD)