Stefan Szczesny

Dumont Hall

In a tour de force, Stefan Szczesny has painted some seventy “soul” portraits of various prominent figures, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Andy Warhol, from El Greco to Bob Marley, from Novalis to John Lennon. What connects these figures is their meaning for Szczesny—their influence on his intellectual, emotional, and artistic development. Forming a personal pantheon, they also remind us of the irreconcilable diversity of ideas that contribute to a serious identity—the impossibility of overcoming contradiction and explaining all one’s elective affinities. Szczesny has in effect portrayed the protean range of his internal objects, as psychoanalysts call them, and in doing so reminded us that there is apparently no privileged object, and by implication, no realm of culture more significant than any other.

There are three things that make Szczesny’s pictures interesting in the context of contemporary

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