For her Lover’s Eyes series, UK-based artist Lucy Pass paints miniature portraits of a single eye, some of which are inside tiny boxes. She is fascinated by ambiguous or neutral expressions, because everyone sees something different in them.
Eye miniatures are not something new: they have been around in classical art for centuries. The idea is believed to have originated in the late 1700s from King George IV of the United Kingdom. He wanted to send the widow Maria Fitzherbert a token of his love, but because his affection for her was frowned upon by the court he had to preserve her anonymity. Therefore, he had a miniaturist paint only Maria’s eye, which George then wore under his lapel. Later these were, very fittingly, called ‘Lovers’ Eyes’.
Lucy is fascinated by the anonymity aspect. She calls herself an anti-portrait maker, because she doesn’t try to capture reality true to its nature, which is the usual practice when painting portraits. She passes her own subconscious judgment on an unknown face and invites the viewer to do the same when faced with the finished piece. ‘The piece is then no longer about the face looking back at us,’ she writes, ‘but about the feelings that it stirs and what those feelings say about us.’
- You can see more of Lucy’s work on her website.
Photography Lucy Pass, @lucy.pass.artist