Artists face off in show

Fragments and Masks opens Friday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. at the Xchanges Gallery

A sample of Richard Motchman’s portraits to be featured in a show with Barry Herring at Xchanges Gallery.

Fragments and Masks is a two-person exhibition of photographs and paintings that explore the way people are presented by the artist’s image.

The show of black and white photography by Barry Herring and interactive paintings by Richard Motchman opens Friday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. at the Xchanges Gallery, 2333 Government St.

These artists use different media but their figurative work is related in that they both focus only on portions of the body in their portraits. When people pose for a portrait they decide what part of themselves to expose and what to hide.

The person performs for the artist. The artist then records the performance and manipulates it to produce an image that will be exposed to a future viewer. These images are a representation of reality and provide the viewer with clues to initiate a personal narrative and form a conception of the person.

Herring uses traditional black and white darkroom techniques to create portrayals of a fragment of a person or he cuts fragments from portraits and recombines them. In this way, he examines how the eye, brain and memory construct an artificial image and not an exact or petrified replication. A central question is what construct does the viewer form of the original subject from the fragment?

Motchman creates portrait paintings using a narrow fragment of the naked person from scalp to pelvis. With each painting is a mask that the viewer interacts with, covering or uncovering the face. The positioning of the mask can further fragment the portrait. The choice of mask depicted is another part of the collaboration between model and artist.

The interaction of the viewer with the mask brings the viewer into an intimate relationship with the painting as object but also into an intimate relationship with the subject of the painting.

The exhibition continues at Xchanges Gallery until Oct. 28. Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.