Dear Eye View I recently celebrated a milestone birthday for which my wife had commissioned a work of art to commemorate. The artist is a cousin who works in mixed media and has a notable regional reputation. I love and deeply respect him and his work, but I never really “got” it. He uses found and recycled materials collaged together. I was horrified to discover that I find the portrait extremely unflattering and troubling. I was shocked to think that my cousin saw me this way. Friends who have seen it have also found it ugly and strangely dark—parts of this collage have my age wrong and imply that I have struggled with obesity and depression. I believe I have responded to the gift appropriately with many thanks and appreciation, but I’m not sure how I am to live with this art in my home. My wife has hung it in a prominent place that I must pass scores of time a day. I’m not sure how to even start the conversation. The additional wrinkle is that a gallery has contacted me asking to include the piece in an upcoming exhibition. I’d rather not have this depiction of me in public. How should I handle this horrible mess? Disturbed
I understand your concern. I think the new wrinkle about the exhibition is a godsend. At least it allows you to temporarily get the wrinkled mess that’s supposed to be you out of the house! Do not be concerned that people will think this is an accurate depiction of you. You should be sure to attend the gallery opening and have lot of photos snapped standing next to your “likeness.” This will only serve to make you look happy, slender, and youthful. If you’re lucky, someone will insist they have to buy the painting and you will have to convince your wife that this art lover must be appeased. Otherwise hope for a break-in.
Hope this helps