The eyes are the window of the soul. This aphorism, which implies a connection between the seen and the unseen, speaks to the sometimes uneasy link between the visible and incorporeal. The eyes thus become a gateway to the anima, which in turn grants entry into the human psyche. Connections such as these are laid bare in J. Tomás López: The Portrait Series, a new body of work by this well-established artist. Rendered in soft focus, the works in this series are characterized by the hazy blending of the facial features, hair, and clothing of their sitters, who are set against abstracted tawny-amber backgrounds. Yet the subjects’ eyes—whether open or shut—are revealed in intense, hyper-focused detail. The viewer is thus brought face-to-face with López’s subjects (key figures in Miami’s artistic, cultural, and educational arenas), in intimate moments that feel almost confessional in nature. Here is where the vehicle (eyes) carries us, the viewers, into that space (psyche) in a formidable and evanescent way—a soft glide into the subjects’ inner essence, poignantly captured.
Drawing from his personal pantheon of artist heroes, López evokes the powerful imagery of 19th-century master portrait photographers like Nadar (Gaspar Félix Tournachon) and Julia Margaret Cameron in his work. The Portrait Series exemplifies his acute interest in the continuation of contemporary photographic processes, which produce beautiful, high-quality images that are rich in tone and outstanding in visual resolution, thus rendering Lopez’s work uniquely his own. These works equally signal time and space, glimpses into the development of the photographic process past and present, and a lens focused on the intense and exact moment when, through the eyes, we confront the soul.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website