The anti-portrait of Otávio Henrique
I have been reflecting on the issue of portraiture in photography for many years, from the relationship between the construction of scenery, clothes, objects, poses, to the relationship between the photographer and the model. The book “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthes was a starting point for my reflection, precisely because at the time the author’s declaration that “the photo is the subject’s death” created an uproar. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Since that moment I stopped taking pictures of myself because when I look at the photo I no longer recognize myself in it, something has changed, I am a different person. What draws more my attention in Henrique’s photographs is precisely this reflection. The photographic language has gone through many crises, criticisms, and reconstructions, but the portrait still stands firm and strong in the attempt to represent the subject, even though today we understand that it is always a failed and ephemeral attempt.
One of the titles of his photos highlights this point “Everyone knows me but nobody knows who I am”, 2019. Just as humanity’s great narratives are gradually fragmenting and universal theories are weakening, so is the power of the portrait as a symbol of the real diminishing.
Another special aspect of Henrique’s photos is visceral. Emotion is one of the best ways to quickly create bonds between people, and the stronger the emotion, the more intense is the connection. This combination of anti-portrait with visceral interesting since it overcomes the classic parameters of the portrait, following the current aesthetic tools of perception of reality as the exhaustion of the portrait’s “true self”.