True to Jenny Dubnau’s straightforward approach, there is nothing glamorous or idealized about the way she portrays her friend. TZ is shown in profile, with slightly disheveled hair and an anxious expression, possibly in the midst of speaking. This informality lends a certain warmth to the portrait, which reads like a conversation between intimate friends.

Although Dubnau draws on traditions of formal academic portraiture, she wants to capture “something of the current zeitgeist of our time.” Her portraits, which have been described by critics as “unflinching,” bring the long history of portraiture into the contemporary moment. She wants them to “feel fresh, not backward looking. I aim for poetic strangeness and a certain discomfort.”


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