Edvard Munch - Self-Portrait in Hell
Edvard Munch – Self-Portrait in Hell

Because my not yet painted self-portraits haunt me, I notice a special kind of self-portraits by other artists. These go beyond just painting what can be seen in the mirror, because they insert imaginary elements.

Sometimes the actual place or age of the portraitist is changed.

Sometimes there are objects or figures that could not be there, such as death (but who knows?).

Or the change I am really fascinated about:

Self-portraits in which the portraitist presents himself as someone else.

This is so counterintuitive but at the same time such an elegant way to present oneself. It raises completely new questions to the evaluation of a self-portrait, because the artist himself makes a comparison or uses a metaphor or analogy.

Arnold Böcklin - Self-portrait with Death
Arnold Böcklin – Self-portrait with Death

Who would you like to be?

Who do you want to be compared to?

In which context do you stand with this person?

What is the chosen person known for?

What qualities do you have in common?

and so on.

Self-portraits that contain imaginary things to make them more real and truthful. What a beautiful idea.