Duct tape artist, DANYOL, has used portrait painting to immortalize the famous queer DJ, Jackie House.
Portrait painting is a practice as old as the medium it relies on. It was born out of both the elite’s desire to be painted and the artist’s need to consistently find work. Unfortunately, as with most art, it is unlikely to align perfectly with work that is creatively fulfilling. Initially lords, ladies, kings, and queens may not always have the court painters’ style of portrait painting in mind. But, tastes naturally grow more sophisticated as culture evolves. This allows for more unique forms of portrait painting. And, as always, artists would not be artists if they were unable to find ways to circumvent dull restrictions. As such, portrait painting, like all art forms, has evolved to the point of being a platform through which nearly any ideas and feelings can be expressed.
Modern portrait painting is more often than not the domain of characters. Artists who specialize in painting portraits tend to choose their subjects based on an interest in the subject’s personalities or achievements. Or they are interested in their eccentricities in personal appearance. Thus, portrait painting today usually tells stories about the individuals contained within the artist or something subtler. This can be achieved through details. When put together in portrait painting, make for a grander whole than a simple face. Or through placing emphasis on particular elements of the subject’s visage and surroundings.
A Unique Portrait Painting Style
DANYOL’s portrait of Bay Area DJ Jackie House used mixed media to draw a unique vision of a unique individual. Or rather, a unique character. The piece, despite ostensibly being labeled as a painting, consists of duct tape, fur, and foam. This is in addition to the traditional oil on canvas. And the various elements in this portrait painting each play a part in emphasizing one of Jackie’s distinguishing features. Black fur becomes his signature mustache. White fur becomes his collar leaking out of the frame. Foam forms his round-rimmed glasses, their lenses pitch black. And paint is used for his flowing white locks. Duct tape also is a signature that DANYOL includes in all his portrait painting. Duct tape here, of course, makes up the rest of the frame. This is including the background. It also is a colorful pink and red mess of abstract bits and bobs that clashes wonderfully with the monochrome bust of the DJ.
Ultimately, the contrast between color, texture and imagery builds an image of a man defined by his style in this portrait painting. Each individual element of Jackie’s persona is given life through emphasis. In DANYOL’s portrait painting, he appears as a meticulously crafted character. He appears as a person of stark distinction. This being in a mad and whimsical world which does not support his specificity. The portrait painting says a lot, without saying much at all. Jackie House is confident in himself. Likely more so than in the world in which he exists. He is refined; he is proud; he is real.
And yet, he is not real.
Despite making his own music and maintaining a style all his own, Jackie is in fact an alter ego of Jacob Sperber, founding member of queer San Francisco dance music collective Honey Soundsystem. Such is the nature of Modern Art, of modern portrait painting, and of DANYOL himself—the painting of individuals has been lost to those who demand they be made immortal through art, and is now fully the domain of characters who have earned their place within the frame.