Karim Hamid

Terrain Gallery

At first glance, both the titles and the compositions of the paintings in this show suggest that these works are meant to be seen as portraits. Each of six large canvases depicts a full figure, either seated or standing; four smaller ones show close-ups of single faces. In none is there more than a hint offered of the space the figure occupies—never more, say, than a patterned floor meeting a featureless wall.

On closer examination, however, these paintings begin to foil the expectations we have of portraiture. Photography may have radically changed our assumptions about art’s job (to represent the appearance of things), but the conventions of certain genres lead us to believe that what we are viewing is really a particular person captured at a particular moment. When, for example, a clothed figure dominates the composition, and the background appears to serve primarily as a frame, a

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