Artworks
Elizabeth

Sr. Editor

Don’t worry; no one slipped anything in your drink. Chuck Close’s portraits are totally psychedelic.

It’s as though you are looking at this woman’s face underwater, if raindrops were made of brightly colored candy. Feel like you’re tripping yet? Well get ready for a wild one, because Close isn't all happy-go-lucky-candy-shop. 

There is an uneasiness to their pixelation, like a TV that's gone static in the middle of the night. The circular shapes within the squares that make up the composition resemble amoebic creatures, almost parasitic in the way they crawl over her skin, their imagined movement coming from your eyes trying to make sense of the optical illusion. All these elements result in a work that’s ambiguous, elusive, and frankly, a bit spooky.

These glitches in visualization that leave us unable to clearly distinguish the sitter makes all the more sense when you find out Close suffers from Prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Close cites his inability to recognize faces as the reason he is so preoccupied with painting them. It might explain why they come out so wonky, too. Close only paints himself and his friends, not wanting a celebrity’s visage to overshadow or influence the important stuff, which is the way the painting looks. Unfortunately for Chuck, his style has become famous on its own.

A digital artist who made a website that takes users photos and puts them through a “Chuck Close” style filter got a stern e-mail from Close. The site has since been discontinued, due to the webmaster’s fear of legal repercussion. Close is adamant he doesn’t use computers to create his paintings and his message was clear: he doesn’t want you to use technology to copy them either.