I came upon eye miniatures on the Ornamentalist blog a few years ago quite by accident. I’ve always been interested in miniature portraits and mementos so the imagery stuck. The miniature portrait started showing up in my works in 2008 with “The Miniature” and an actual lover’s eye last year with “Soldier with Lover’s Eye.”
The surreal aspect of an isolated eye attracts me tremendously—the idea of physical dismemberment which is symbolic of a removal or estrangement of a loved one. For anyone who’s ever been in love or had a crush on someone, the photograph of the beloved is treasured. So these are portable remembrances before the camera so to speak. It also reminds me of the mexican ‘milagros’ – little charms of different body parts used to aid in praying for the healing of broken arms or hearts, or even eyes.
Compositionally speaking, the framed ornamental eye gives context and a reason for a floating third or fourth eye in a painting. It’s a device of conceit: a portrait within a portrait. For me, it’s an iconic symbol about the figure represented not unlike the reliquaries of saints in old devotional images. In this new series of works, the lover’s eyes are held by uniformed or exotically dressed figures that may have been away at war or estranged in some foreign land. Romance runs the gamut of emotions which can be symbolized by the language of flowers and even physically visible wounds.