Prospect portrait prize- in focus Judith Rolevink

This work is allegorical in nature, I love the methodology of giving the viewer the ability to discover their own meaning to the painting and therefore relate it more to themselves. Often it is through our own experiences that we interpret the meaning of a work. That and reading about it :).

I have a real emotive connection with this work , she has tried to “mask” her feelings however they seep through and reality, which is often connected to pain, forces its way through the makeup and dribbles down her cheek. In the background a twisted figure made of wax is suspended from an iron bar. The artists head is covered with a scarlet scarf and her ears are blocked with ear plugs.

A big insight to the meaning of the work is the gnarled and arthritic hand of the artist holding her brushes.  The title of the work offers us a further glimpse into its meaning. “Becoming Pierrot” through refers to the clown figure, popular since the late 17th century. Pierrot became popular from the Italian theatre genre  Commedia dell’Arte – which was like a sitcom where the same character roles were played out in front of an audience. The “plays” were not written down and often reflected the views of the audience and mirrored the climate of the time. The character of Pierrot was lifted out of theatre and became popular in France, where he became a symbol of the post revolutionary people who struggled (often tragically) to find a place in the world, largely dominated by the upper middle class (bourgeois). However, there is a grotesque undertone to this work. While the popular image of the clown may be smooth-faced and beautiful, Rolevink has allowed her true nature to emerge through the make-up facade. A master in tonal realism she has allowed every imperfection to protrude. There is nothing hidden, her fingers and knuckles seem twisted and sore.

While the Character of Pierrot was one who suffered persecution from others, Rolevink has allowed her character earplugs to block the harsh comments from the world. It is far from reflecting a naivety, it is displaying a form of protection.

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