The Invisible Man Portrait Society

A little recognised or acknowledged yet again by Archibald cataloguers, curators or judges the work of the invisible Man Portraitist was again on Display. This year it was was Fred Dilligaf’s “Portrait of an Invisible Man in Foster St, Sale” Di and I were in Sale for the Archibald exhibition. I will be sharing my favourites over the next few weeks. But I want to share Dilligaf’s work first of all. Dilligaf’s Invisible Man is in the street outside the Sale Gallery. Once again, he is an enigma, forcing us to re-examine our concepts of portrait. Nothing that we hold true about portraits is true of this work, so we were forced to ask what we do hold true about portraits. Unless of course, we have missed this work completely. Dilligaf has left a large blank canvas above his work. Is he inviting contributions?

The Invisible Man Portrait Society (IMPS) began after Ralph Ellison, the author of the Invisible Man (1952) began painting. He was taken by the idea that portraits are an interaction between the artist and viewer inside a gallery. He wished to capture the interaction of the artist looking out of the gallery at an invisible man or woman who was looking back at the viewer. He was also taken by the idea that many people often stared at spaces on walls and galleries not knowing whether they were looking at art or simply a fire extinguisher or an empty picture frame or out a window at an invisible man: hence the concept of portrait of the invisible man in a scene outside a gallery. There are many portraits in this series in galleries all around the world. They are smuggled into galleries by members of the Invisible Man Portrait Society aided by subversive members of the gallery. The portraits are appreciated only by the cogniscinti. After much internal debate, the society has decided to go mainstream. It remains to be seen whether there will be a tsunami of interest.

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