The story behind the work
Jeff Huntington depicts faces of his father, living with Alzheimer's
Friday, June 18, 2010
Jeff Huntington's interest in Alzheimer's isn't idle curiosity. The artist's father, depicted in "Plaques and Tangles" -- a triptych from which the show takes its name -- has suffered from the disease for 10 years. The three-canvas work depicts the 67-year-old in moods that are, by turns, frustrated, goofy and contemplative.
Those three paintings began as an homage to his father. He was also an artist, and Huntington remembers accompanying him, as an 8-year-old boy, to art classes. It's there that Huntington first discovered his facility for portraiture, painting characters from "Star Wars."
When Huntington began "Plaques and Tangles," he didn't know where they would lead. Like all his work, they started out as black-and-white, or grisaille (from the French word for "gray") underpaintings. Color is only added as a final step.
After starting them, Huntington put the pictures of his father aside and began to work on images of children, most of whom are his father's grandchildren. It was then that Huntington noticed how multiple perspectives were also creeping into those works. Eventually, he returned to his father. The three pictures, he says, were "the first ones started and the last ones finished."
-- Michael O'Sullivan