I draw and paint from found photos of strangers with particular focus on ambiguous or, at a glance, neutral expressions. The unknown subject and their unknown emotions have become an important aspect in my work where I find myself instinctively attempting to read the individual, allowing this to direct the piece. If the intent of portraiture is to capture the subject in their truest sense, I am then a kind of anti-portrait maker, passing my own subconscious judgement on an unknown face and inviting the viewer to do the same when faced with the finished piece.
My work features vanishing or obscured fragments of faces - maybe sometimes just an eye, nose or mouth - unpicking the idea of portraiture further. I focus on the parts that stand out to me, as if they were key sentences highlighted from a written passage. So much is stripped back that the redacted elements take on power and it becomes as much about what you can't see as what you can. Sometimes these fragments hang alone in an empty space, sometimes they are repeated or echoed, anchored with gestural, abstract marks and shocks of colour. The focus is still on the subject but you are invited to ask questions and fill in the blanks.
I try not to impose a clear cut narrative on the viewer. My aim is to illicit an emotional response without dictating exactly what one should or shouldn't be feeling. I have become fascinated by the range of responses to each portrait - what one person perceives can be in complete contradiction to the next. Sometimes these reactions can be clearly explained by the individual and other times it is something visceral that can't quite be placed. The piece is then no longer about the face looking back at us, but about the feelings that it stirs and what that tells us about ourselves.
Lucy Pass is a self-taught contemporary portrait painter, currently living and working in Cheltenham, UK. She appeared on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 and has since has been very prolific, intensively exploring and expanding her practice and as a result has her work in private collections all over the world and has exhibited alongside renowned artists across the UK. Her work has been shortlisted for several awards and she was announced as the overall winner of The British Art Prize 2023.