THE LITTLE DETAILS: Artist preserves memories in small portraits
Published 8:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2022
Special to the Democrat
NATCHEZ — “Tokens of Memory: The Miniature Portrait Project” is a collaborative work in process between the young Cuban artist Danco Robert Duportai and Stacy Conde of Conde Contemporary art gallery.
The exhibition, set to take place in 2023 at Conde Contemporary in Natchez and will feature a massive collection of diminutive portraits by Duportai Garcia.
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The project is naturally indicative of Duportai Garcia’s body of work which consists primarily of small format paintings, replete with concepts of token and memory.
His interest in painting in miniature arises from the desire of making each of these works more intimate; he focuses on the smallest detail.
According to Christies.com, “Portrait miniatures first appeared in European royal courts in the 16th century, and flourished during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. By the 18th century their popularity was widespread, with leading miniature painters establishing themselves among the wealthy elite in London, Bath and Dublin. Miniatures were particularly sought after by soldiers and sailors who wanted to leave their loved ones with a likeness to cherish in their absence.”
The artist said he preserves the smallest details, reducing their size, and preserving the memory of things before they are gone forever.
“Just as the history of the miniature developed largely on different pieces or objects for personal use such as watches, medallions, etc. I have tried to intervene on elements such as: cassettes, staple bars or makeup bases. If you enter a gallery and see my works on general view in the space, you will see only lights on the wall. I spend hours reducing dimensions to an inspired image of a memory, sometimes a portrait, a glass of wine, books or fragments of a pair of feet that one day will stop treading on this earth,” he said.
The portrait is the main language of Duportai Garcia’s work and with that he seeks to achieve two main goals. One is to capture the personality of the subject in just a few centimeters, and the second is to rescue the miniature portrait from its steady decline since the 19th century.
“The size of the portraits is actually a great equalizer, at once reflecting and removing them from their past,” said curator Stacy Conde. “Their size and medium have democratized the tradition of giving a portrait as a memento, and removed the act from the exclusivity of the cultural elite.”
Each oil on canvas portrait included in “Tokens of Memory: The Miniature Portrait Project” series is 8 by 10 centimeters or 3.15 by 3.9 inches in size.
For more information on the project and how you can participate by commissioning a portrait, follow @miniatureportraitproject on Instagram and Facebook, or contact the gallery directly by emailing email@example.com.