Portraits of the Soul

And now for something different: an art show. “Facial Hair,” portraits by Dominique LaBrosse.

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Since the real show is only available to local people, the photographer has given permission to post some of the works here, on the understanding that they are the intellectual property of Dominique Labrosse Photography, and permission to use them in any way must be obtained from the owner at http://labrossephotography.com

Art is often about beauty, people, or emotion. The guys in these portraits would probably be the first to admit that the show isn’t about beauty. In fact, when asked to view something called, “Facial Hair,” my first reaction was that I was faced (ha, ha) with the stuff in my bathroom mirror every morning for the last 45 years; it’s going to take something special to impress me.

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And I was impressed This show is not about hair. It’s about people and how their souls shine from their eyes and their smiles. From the moment I walked into the room I felt I was in the presence of a bunch of guys I’d like to know. Their personalities glowed from the walls.

These aren’t models. They’re a bunch of regular fellows who grew facial hair in honour of Movember, the campaign to cure prostate cancer. The idea was that they didn’t usually grow their facial hair, and thus the novelty of a beard or moustache provided a liberating element that allowed them to relax more than usual. Photo shoots were very short, some as little as five minutes, but during that time the technique was definitely proven effective.

Some of the posers posed. They made faces and were silly and had a good time, providing a fun element to the show.

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But I was more impressed by the sitters who were themselves. With a little help from their beards, the photographer managed to coax them into an emotional state where their real personalities shone through.

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Since these are a bunch of friends, several of them were at the opening night of the show. When I met them I was astounded at how much of their real personalities were evident in their portraits: the acid test of the portraitist.

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From a technical point of view, it is impressive how this artist has mastered the difficult technique of lighting people with dark complexions. He has not been quite so successful in the even more difficult problem of dark eyes, which tend to look completely black, and any amount of image manipulation to lighten them seems to show up. Eyes are such an important part of the human face, and especially so in these portraits. The samples shown in this post have not been retouched, and I think they show better.

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The venue is the Charles Clark Gallery, 1345 Clark Drive Vancouver, which shares its space with the Strange Fellows Brewing Company, a rather good match for pictures of a bunch of Canadian guys. Showing until December 30. Drop in for a look and a lager.

Real portraits of real people. Highly recommended for all. Especially if you like beer.

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RATING: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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