March 2010|Roberta Carasso

Contemporary artist Ray Turner has long been fascinated by the endless variations and unique features of portraiture — how facial expressions are portals through which light from the individual soul is revealed. Turner’s most masterful work is his current series, Population, a group of 196 oil portraits on paper or glass that keeps growing as Turner’s passions continuously find new people and fresh possibilities to express. Although he deliberately limits each portrait to just the head, the artist conveys each human story through a fascinating range of emotions, humor, drama, melancholy, warmth, and tenderness.

These are people Turner knows and loves — family, friends and those whose visages are too compelling to resist. Seeing variations of so many portraits at once, we observe individuality through unique shadows, skin coloring, hair, and bone structure. We are aware of eyes that look at us, some boldly, some shyly, and others that stare back at us as much as we stare at them. Each painting is unique, as if Turner only painted that one.

Portrait painting is not an exercise in capturing a likeness. A true artist does not replicate, but uses his superior powers of observation to study individual features in terms of color, form, texture, and spatial relationships. Yet a master such as Turner goes beyond the physical features to capture the spiritual essence that distinguishes each sitter. In this exhibition, Turner, like Rembrandt, leads us further to appreciate the depth conveyed by each individual portrait.

With amazing swirls of paint, sure brushstrokes and dramatic, luscious color palettes, he makes us marvel at the endless possibilities an artist of merit can find in portraying the greatest known work of art: the human face… Please click here to view the article.