PORTRAITS WITH ANACOLUTHON
This series started as a kind of experiment: I wanted to see what kind of portrait would come about if, while I was painting the model, the focus was kept on conversation, and the model’s pose was constrained for only two hours. Each portrait was an unpredictable adventure, both in its conversation and in the painting that resulted.
When I painted Antonio Pereira’s portrait on May 11, 2008, a year before his death, I began our conversation by asking him to allow me the occasional anacoluthon. I was referring to one of his stories, where a captain prohibited to commit any anacoluthon. Antonio Pereira, with a cheerful expression of surprise, exclaimed: “Ah, you have read my books!”
Anacoluthon is a syntactical error, a failure in the logical sequence of a sentence. A mistake, it pops up frequently in both speech and stream of consciousness. And precisely because it’s so common, it is also considered a rhetorical device with expressive effects. Either way, whether a device or a misstep, the irregular and altered syntax creates an asymmetric sentence. An imbalance—“anacoluthon” in Greek means “not following,” “inconclusive.”
A transcription of the conversations with my models, given the spontaneity of our dialogue, would reveal a steady stream of anacolutha. At the same time, in this technical word taken from ancient rhetoric, I also find a metaphor for what these paintings offer: inevitably, they include something that could be labeled “pictorial anacoluthon.” As with spoken language, there will be mistakes, both in the portrait’s symmetry, and in its sense of completeness. However, what may be considered, at first, a formal mistake may also be a form of expression.
Some samples in this slideshow are:
Antonio Pereira (Writer)
Juan José Millás (Writer)
Concha García Campoy (Journalist)
Félix Grande (Poet)
Alfredo Alcaín (Painter)
Jorge Volpi (Writer)
Emilio Lledó (Philosopher)
Fabián Panisello (Musician and Composer)
Julio Llamazares (Writer)
The conversations in their entirety, along with images of the paintings, are available digitally through The University of Iowa Libraries, at DIGITAL LIB UIOWA EDU