Tokyo Portrait | Carl Randall

Tokyo Portrait 2011 | Painting 71 21⁄32 x 89 3⁄8 inches

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The series of paintings Tokyo Portraits evokes Carl Randall’s journey to the Land of The Rising Sun, when he deepened his understanding of both the portrait and urban life. Crammed onto the canvas, the monochrome faces blur the distinction between foreground and background, without hierarchy, like a token of the diversity of Japanese society. The canvas is practically suffocated by the accumulation of figures, but the various shades of grey reduce and quieten down this dramatic effect. Each face is the result of an encounter: over a thousand people, aged between ten and eighty years old, sat for the artist in his studio. These heads on heads weave across the canvas, expressing the disparity of a multigenerational society where the next closest person is so similar and yet so different.

An allegory for a country that has a massive density of population, Tokyo Portrait blurs the boundaries between the individual and the collective, assembling a fresco of a giant Japanese family project, and causing us to question our place in society.