Burton Philip Silverman

New York City
Stonemason
Collection of the artist
Oil on linen, 2010

 

There are paintings I make that often elicit the dual nature of visual experience—the unexpected psychological element behind the surface reality. That element possibly manifests itself in this portrait of man who is both a friend and someone I employed. Knowing him and some of his history—his frustrations and his conflicts—I suspect affected this painting. Though I admired his skill as a mason, this is not a painting about the glorious “working class.” More directly it is a reflection of my admiration for a friend and indirectly to honor those very ordinary kinds of talents that our culture often forgets. His almost anguished expression truly surprised me since I was just trying to get the resemblance “right.” Perhaps this was simply the consequence of searching for an accurate portrayal, but it is a reminder for me that art is, among other things, an act of discovery.

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