Of course it’s all deliberate and planned out, but the effect of a painting in which the artist catches him or herself as a reflected image in a studio mirror, is oddly unsettling. In such paintings, the image of the artist transforms the person of the artist into a potential subject, a model. The artist shows us how he or she sees the world and everything in it–as potential subject matter. Such slow selfies are not new to Sharp; variations on the trope date back to Velasquez’s Las Meninas and Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Wedding, Rockwell’s famous Triple Self-Portrait is another take on the meme–to use a contemporary word. In The Artist in the Studio Mirror, Sharp catches himself contemplating at his model. He holds a canvas, or board and a fistful of brushes. The gilt frame of the mirror becomes the frame for the portrait within the portrait–a variant on what is called “mise en abyme,” with its suggestion of infinite, fractal regression. Sharp’s contemplation has a hint of hesitation in it, as if the artist, via this painting, is wondering, as all artists do, about his legacy.
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