STILL LIFE PORTRAIT series (1980s-ongoing)

"One of the themes to be read in John Hall's ongoing series of Still Life Portraits is, in fact, how we construct realities and identities from the objects and images we choose out of a vast array of possibilities to signify ourselves. In his Still Life Portraits Hall collapses two traditional genres of realist painting, portraiture and still life, into a single still life image that represents the fusion of two separate identities: the artist's and the sitter's. Both parties are absent, outside of the frame of the image. This is where we would expect the portrait painter to be. However, the absent subject is present (or presented) solely as a composition of objects. To begin a portrait Hall asks its subject to lend him small belongings, stipulating only that they contain personal meanings for the owner. By making this simple request he opens the door to more aspects of a subject or personality than portraiture usually admits. The subjects, who knowingly enter the collaboration, are conscious of participating in an act of representation. And by selecting the things with more than ordinary meaning among their possessions, they are, whether consciously or not, identifying what they see as significant signs for themselves."

Nancy Tousley / Imitations of Life: John Hall's Still Life Portraits / Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queens University