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Self-Portrait on Mirror, 1970, Charcoal 72.ี7.2cin. (2812 x22Y in.)  Collection: Mrs. Joseph B. Barron, Boston, MA

From exhibition catalog: American Portrait Drawings, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1980

Abeles is a painter and a sculptor as well as a draftsman, but drawing became an essential concern for him in the late 1960s, about the time when this inventive self-portrait was made. His work was then shaped by two basic realizations: 衴 art could be black and white"; and that his drawings were more original and directly expressive峳 inclined to eclecticism衮 his paintings. (It is only recently that Abeles has begun to work again with color; he gave it up in 1967.)

Artists have long used the mirror as an aid to portraiture, but few have thought to step on the mirror and explore a radically foreshortened perspective that is, perhaps, both surprising and significant in the unaccustomed degrees of prominence accorded certain parts of the image. It is interesting, for instance, that at a time when the artist reportedly drew with soft pencils attached to a two-foot stick, he shows us neither his arms nor his hands. Almost the entire torso, historically a locus of human spirit, is eliminated. Casually shod feed become the static origins of image and form; the edgeless mirror plane floats ambiguously within tile pictures space in an unresolved relationship to the paper೵rface. A small, intensely drawn head peers down and out⠵p and in⯭ its perch of wrinkled trousers. In Abeles튠 serious use of such devices, one senses the respectful purpose with which he explores tile figurative tradition.

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Sinclair Hitchings. "Statement." In Abeles, Recent Drawings. Durham, N.H., 1971.


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ఱ by Sigmund Abeles