Playing on the conventions of traditional portraiture, Northern Rivers-based artist Cedar Jeffs explores the complexities of human behaviour. Having studied at Byron School of Art, Mullumbimby, the artist’s surrealist portraits tap into society’s obsession with appearance and the challenges that come with navigating this culture.
Reflecting on her own journey, Jeffs’ work presents a focus on fashion history and the place of women within historical narratives. Having previously worked in industries centred on image and personal aesthetics, Jeffs works subvert a culture obsessed with physical appearance, pivoting away from a focus on outward appearance and towards an evaluation of internal emotions. Jeff’s portraits draw on observations of women, also tapping into her own experience as a woman within today’s society.
Jeff’s works seek to dissect the many different layers of an individual, exposing the tension that exists between how we present ourselves and how we feel inside. This tension, born out of a culture of aesthetics, is echoed in the demeanour of Jeffs’ feminine figures. Poses communicating vulnerability and discomfort highlight the unease experienced whilst existing within a highly critical and judgemental society.
Despite exploring themes such as introversion and vulnerability, Jeffs primarily works with portraiture – an art form typically associated with extroversion. By obscuring the face and eyes, the artist subverts conventions of portraiture, allowing her figures a greater degree of anonymity and protection. This subversion reflects a desire to be both present and hidden. Fuelled by a interest in introversion and the complexities of the human condition, much of Jeffs work explores the inner workings of an introvert’s mind.
Jeffs completely turns the idea of portraiture on its head, creating intimate images that embody the pressures of contemporary society. Her delightful yet emotive ‘introverted portraits’ perfectly encapsulate the complex relationship that we have with ourselves, others and the environment.
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