A man in a U.S. Navy uniform stands at attention against the red and white stripes of an American flag. With his chin lifted and his gaze directed toward the distance, he appears to be awaiting an order, ready to accomplish a mission. Portraitist Luis Álvarez Roure painted this likeness of Juan Carlos Vázquez Argüelles, his best friend since childhood, shortly after the latter returned from war. The artist honors his friend while recognizing that after multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, “he is the same, but different at the same time. . . . His pain and his wounds are hidden.”
In his realist portraits, Álvarez Roure employs expressive techniques and uses light and shadow to dramatic effect. In Hidden Wounds, the broad brushstrokes on the vertically oriented flag and the shadow covering half of the sitter’s face work together to evoke his friend’s invisible scars.