Oil on canvas, 60 in x 36 in, 2008

The Outwin Boochever 2009
Portrait Competition

National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC

October 23, 2009 to August 22, 2010

Clarissa Payne Uvegi's self-portrait is startling in its simplicity of conception and choice of colors. An otherwise straightforward, traditional or orthodox self-portrait becomes a revelation of character revealed in a brilliant choice of form. The portrait seems flat, but only on the surface. The picture vibrates on its own and creates other dimensions, including time. The haunting quality of decay and the energy of the flesh reminds me of Lucien Freud's paintings.


This is a portrait of a woman who has all the elements of a life of inherent contradictions. The woman is obviously middle-aged, yet the corporeal energy of her youth, with its sensual sexuality, exists, or should I say coexists, within the painting. The grays, blues, and skin tones  are heroic choices, as they force the viewer to see the person and the persona beyond the painting. The physical stance of the woman neither challenges nor retreats. It neither invites nor rejects. The painting is simultaneously concrete and ethereal, with a hint of the “Gioconda” smile. Thus the painting will remain an enigma. The viewer will have to look deeper than the surface of the image to discover the true nature of the woman.


I very much love the difference of the right and left arms and hands. The left hand holds the brush as if to say the painting is finally over, the orgasm of creativity has spent itself. The right-hand thumb, hooked in the jeans pocket, signals the rebel in the artist, not yet finished with her process. She will return and we will await her, as she delivers, with a simplicity, the artistry that quietly belies the power of her vision.

--Dr. Sidney Rosenblum, D.C.,
author of The Angina Dialogues,
November, 2008