Ruan Huisamen’s arresting portrait of Aimee was placed fifth in 2019’s Sanlam Portrait Awards. It is 75 cm x 63 cm in size. Huisamen started the portrait in October 2016. Other projects came up however and he was only able to resume work in April 2019. At that stage he spent a further three weeks on it.
Huisamen worked from a photograph. He explains that he is not drawn to flawless perfection. Instead he wants to emphasise his subject’s vulnerability and humanity.
Huisamen started off by dividing a large drawing on paper into small grids. He worked from a photo until he was about half way through with the portrait. At that stage intuition came into play. Prominence was given to certain aspects of the drawing, while others were de-emphasized. “I try to intensify the features and ‘imperfections’,” he explains. “It is precisely because something is mortal and therefore transient, that makes it beautiful in my opinion. He prefers his subject to look directly at the viewer. Subjects are rendered without decoration or environment. This is done “in an attempt to capture and communicate an intensely intimate presence.”
According to Huisamen the use of black and white “keeps the piece more focused and objective. It leaves a little less room for interpretation, but it also infuses the piece with a sense of weight and drama. Within a black and white portrait, a turned head or the slightest twist of a body in the darkness, can look like classical sculpture and even feel monumental, regardless of size.” Aimee was sold during the opening night of the 2019 Sanlam Portrait Award.
You can follow Ruan Huisamen on Ruan Huisamen Art and Instagram.