Oil on canvas
27.375 x 23.25 inches
Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York
This mysterious painting appears to be a conventional, realistic portrait of a young man, but the image communicates almost nothing about the sitter. His face is completely obscured by a dark rectangle, and his hairstyle and clothing are nondescript, lacking any of the details that would place him in a particular time or place. No matter how many times our eyes return to the sitter's face, we cannot get past the empty black rectangle. This frustrating painting thwarts our ability to "see" the subject in any meaningful way, and ultimately questions our relationship with the truth as presented by images alone. By denying our ability to identify the subject, Borremans challenges our expectations of what a portrait should be.