I have always been drawn to the human figure and the emotional density that exemplifies our humanity. These drawings, both of individuals and groups in settings, are intentionally composed to avoid spatial specificity while simultaneously embracing the emotional landscape of the sitter's facial expressions and pose. The ambiguity of space and the unconventional notion of the figure to ground relationship relinquishes the subject matter from its traditionalist figurative past instituting a contemporary cryptic narrative in its place. Rather than capturing an individual’s likeness, my interest lies in drawing upon the association connecting the subject matter and the viewer. The formal and spiritual themes in this body of drawings derive their roots from my early introduction to Iconography. Growing up Coptic Orthodox, the icons of the saints and martyrs adorned Orthodox Cathedrals and challenged me with early notions of Christian theology and spiritual ignominy. These early influences began revealing themselves in the chosen poses that mimicked these iconographic origins; poised, looking out solemnly towards the audience. The facial expressions of my subjects expose a precarious boundary between emotional subtlety and emotional clarity that icons are not allowed to reveal, in turn exposing the individuality innately assigned to our humanity.


Joseph Paul Gerges