In Ñspel: The Guardian view on political portraiture: putting faces to history

David Harewood with his photographic portrait by Ashley Karrell in Harewood House, Leeds. Photograph: Ashley Karrell/PA
Devid Herwŭd wɖ hiz fotgrafic portrit bî Aśli Caṛl in Herwŭd Hǎs, Lìdz. Foṭgraf: Aśli Caṛl/PA

Ɖ Gardịn vy on p’liticl portrićr: ptñ fesz t hisṭri

Transcription of a Gardian editorial of 8 September 2023

Ɖ motivz bhnd ny picćrz v ɖ formr prîm̦inistr T’rīza Me n ɖ actr Devid Herwŭd me b difṛnt, bt bʈ yz art t srv repyteśn

Frîde, 8 Sptmbr 2023

Tū portrits, tū vri difṛnt storiz v Britn. Saied Dai’z pentñ v T’rīza Me, unveild ɖs wīc, z ɖ lêtist xampl v ẃt hz bcm a standd onr fr formr prîm̦inistrz, az mć part v ɖ afṭmaʈ v pǎr az afṭdinr spīćz n a s’kṛtitīm. Mnẃl at Herwŭd Hǎs in Wst Yorx́r, a fremd portrit v ɖ actr Devid Herwŭd bî ɖ ftogṛfr Aśli Caṛl hz gn on vy. Mr Herwŭd’z ansestrz wrct az inslevd ppl on a śŭgrplanteśn ǒnd bî ɖ secnd Rl v Herwŭd, Hnri Lascelles. F ɖ formr PM’z portrit cnfrmz ɖ old ordr, Mr Herwŭd’z qsćnz it.

Yt bʈ portrits olso pruv ɖt w’v nvr bn mor paśṇt n ingejd wɖ ɖs enćnt artform. Ẃt’s in a pentd or foṭgraft fes? A lījn v cntstd valyz n hisṭriz. Onli a fy yirz ago, portrićr wz sìn bî ɖ cogṇsenti az a sili old źãra, v inṭrest onli t corpṛtbosz. Tde it cn sīm ɖt evri ny portrit z nyz, mnli fr its p’liticl n sośl mīnñ. Ɖ rioṗnñ v ɖ Naśnl Portritgaḷri hz bn ɖ artistic ivnt v ɖ yir, its dsplez ptñ ny n marjiṇlîzd fesz intu ɖ naśnl stori. Nr z ɖs an xclusivli Britiś obseśn. Americn artists sć az Cehinde Wîli n Emi Śeṛld r yzñ portrićr t trnsform repriznteśnz v rês n îdntti.

Tde’z portritmeńa homz in on ɖ most cnsrṿtiv n cnvnśnl aspect v portrićr: its psivd eņoḅlñ v ɖ sitr. Ɖ picćrz v Mr Herwŭd n Msz Me hv ɖs in comn, īvn ɖo ɖe pt vri difṛnt twists on it. Ɖt z ɖ mesij v ɖs wīc’s tū ofiśl unveilñz. Ẃl Msz Me jônz ɖ guvnmnt art-c’lex́n, Mr Herwŭd infltrets ɖ Jorjn stetli hom bilt on hiz faṃli’z forst lebr. Artistic portrićr z ɖ oṗzit v a slfi: evrʈñ abt it z forml n imfatic, nt caźl at ol. Ɖt signiḟceśn v steṭs n onr hz nǎ bcm ẃt inṭrests artists n ɖ public alîc. Hvñ yr portrit in a public ples or c’lex́n hz bcm a pǎrfl, simbolic act.

Yt ɖ risc in ǎr obseśn wɖ ɖ poḷtics v portrićr – cnsrṿtiv or radicl – z ɖt ɖ artistic qoḷti v an imij bérli matrz. Ɖ ny portrits bʈ gt hî marcs fr recgnîẓbiḷti bt, bynd ɖt, wl îɖr b rmembrd az art? Ɖ srj v inṭrest in ɖ cntmprri mīnñ v portrićr mcs s fget ɖt it cn olso b a nuanst n mstirịs art, huz mīnñz r mć hardr t xplen or xōst.

Gret artists fṛm Titian t Lūśn Freud tc portrićr t strenj, poetic hîts. Bt it’s hard t si eni ny Freudz amñ tde’z portritists. It z a bitr îṛni ɖt stydnts wr dscurijd fr decedz fṛm tecñ pentñ sirịsli, bfr faśn ćenjd. Nǎ ɖr’z a rej fr pentñz, bt a śalo reẓvwar v ɖ rqîrd scilz.

Portrićr śd’nt b a ćīp we t mc a pônt. Devid Lascelles, etʈ Rl v Herwŭd, cmiśnd a foṭgraf v Mr Herwŭd, rɖr ɖn gtñ a top pentr at top muni. Y wd ʈnc h mt aford a mor ambiśs wrc v art gvn h md £5.7m last yir simpli fṛm selñ wn Veronese fṛm hiz faṃli c’lex́n. Z ɖs bargin resttyśn? F w riyli wont t ćenj ɖ fesz v Britn, w nīd t fînd n nrćr gret portritists, hu cn pent ɖ truʈ fr ol tîm, nt jst a hedlîn.

Instroduction to Ñspel

"House by the Railroad," Edward Hopper, 1925

11/09/2023

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