When the subject has undergone a traumatic physical transformation, it's difficult for an artist to be sensitive enough. Even the act of depiction can be too intrusive when it comes to the rippling scars of a burn victim. Artist Doug Auld seeks to ease this apprehension in his oil-painted portraits, which offer celebration instead of scrutiny. By showing his subjects in slightly less than photorealistic detail, Auld invites us to look, but not so closely and clinically as a photograph might encourage. The posing, lighting and painterly attention to the burn patterns beckon us to pay attention even though we've been taught to look away, and the biographical details leave little doubt that the subjects are comfortable revealing themselves. And we ought to encourage them to be comfortable; looking instinctively away will do nothing to undo what's been done, but acknowledging them celebrates their fortune at having survived.
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