Double Portrait (left)

Philip Huyghe


Photography, 125 x 125 cm.
Materials: digital process on forex

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. BK6929_A).

Double Portrait is staged color photograph.  It is a double-portrait of the artist and his mother.  With the aid of a plastic surgeon, a silicon mask was devised wherein the faces of mother and son meld together.  Philip Huyghe wears this mask, along with the same clothes as his mother, and assumes an identical pose.  Despite the proficient masquerade, Philip never becomes his mother's double.  The result of this staging is an image of mother alongside mother, familiarity alongside estrangement.

The artist himself describes his work as "a passage between reality and fantasy": the relationship with reality is intentionally disrupted.

In his search for identity, Philip Huyghe takes his lead from his immediate lineage.  His parents are frequently recruited as authentic actors.  He recycles them as though they are 'living evidence'.  By involving his parents in his work, he investigates himself and his relationship with the world.  He creates an artistic safe haven by taking what is most familiar to him, and then visually and conceptually analyzing and transforming this material.  His parents function as a point of orientation in Huyghe's investigation into his own identity and history.  This concerns more than mere recording of his own surroundings.  He doesn't document; he stages.  Moreover, his work is also more than just a search for identity or an investigation into the value grid of a socio-economic group.  He delves into his own identity, his own genealogy.

Double Portrait contains subtle art-historical references.  The atmosphere and composition reminds us of the painted double-portraits of times long, long ago.

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