The eyes are the mirror of the soul. – Proverb
“U.S. President George W. Bush, after his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, remarked that he ‘looked the man in the eye… [and] was able to get a sense of his soul.’
The key feature of the human face is the eyes. When we first meet another person, we make eye contact. The eyes are what we look at when we talk with another person to ensure they understand us; to ensure we understand them. Eyes express the truth of what a person feels, thinks, or believes. As writers and philosophers have noted through millennia, the eyes interpret what the soul believes.
In this context, then, the focus only on eyes in A sense of his soul strips away any additional identifiers – the mouth, hair, facial structure – anything that would clearly identify who the person is, thereby making all subjects in this work equal in the eyes of the viewer. We can learn about them only from what their eyes tell us.
In the United States, upon being elected to office, state governors have a formal portrait taken. This portrait is used for publicity purposes as well serving as the official record of what this person looked like when he or she governed.
"In this version of A sense of his soul, I have appropriated gubernatorial portraits from various states and am attempting to give us a glimpse into the mind of the politicians that run our states by focusing only on their eyes in their official portraits. Look, then, into the eyes of these politicians and gain a sense of their souls.” – Dennis Hodges, Artist
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.