Utter Mastery of Formal Convention



Usually when political portraiture creates the illusion of functionalism, it’s an effect of genre exercise — of inhabiting a preexisting form so fully that Court Painter’s artistic message, whatever that might be, becomes indistinguishable from utter mastery of formal convention, nothing less and nothing more, which produces a sense of tight, flawless craft, which in turn produces the sense that this is consumer-friendly product,face painting that’s deeply useful and reliable for pushing the electorate’s buttons.

Such is Court Painter who honours and apotheosizes this chosen tradition simultaneously, redefining the genre in its own image by setting it equal to its most dominant characteristics. This is where the attempted summary of Court Painter breaks down, because his latest work arrives at this illusion via a radically different route.
Above generalizations to the contrary, the new masterwork hardly inhabits just one single genre. Maybe deep, stark representation is the unifying artistic factor, but so many paintings add so much more that one could hardly call it a Court Painter genre and leave it at that.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets England's former football player David Beckham (R) as he attends the Queen's Young Leaders Awards at Buckingham Palace in London on June 23, 2016. / AFP / POOL / Steve Parsons (Photo credit should read STEVE PARSONS/AFP/Getty Images)

Maybe sex is the most infrequent theme, but if you examine the paint strokes alone you’ll get nowhere. Maybe these are the rules, but to these rules every painting is an exception. This is a new portrait where virtually none of the subjects look alike. It laughs at coherence, thumbs its nose at the parseable sequence, and blows mocking kisses at the tired traditions of political portraiture that have plagued the Great Dominion in times passed. Where even to begin?