The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled a major new commission of portrait drawings of some of the UK’s leading film directors.
The portraits, by Nina Mae Fowler (represented by Cob Gallery, London), investigate fame, desire and our relationship with cinema. For the commission, she invited directors Amma Asante, Paul Greengrass, Asif Kapadia, Ken Loach, Sam Mendes, Nick Park, Sally Potter, Ridley Scott, and Joe Wright to choose a film of particular significance to them. During the sittings, Fowler projected the film of their choice, and recorded their reactions on camera and through loose sketches, with their faces lit only by the light of the screen in an otherwise darkened space.
Fowler watched the films of the sittings frame by frame to extract stills that would form the basis of the final charcoal drawings. Intriguingly the artist has chosen not to reveal the directors’ film choices. The intimate scale of the works draws the viewer into the minds of the people behind the lens, conveying the inspiration felt by the directors when watching great cinema.
Ridley Scott said, “I was not keen on sitting for a portrait because I dislike being photographed intensely. But Nina persevered and is a hard one to turn down. She sent me a book on her work, and I was blown away. She explained her technique and how she worked to enable people to sit still for the session. In my case, she wanted me to watch the first film I ever saw. I think it worked out.”
‘Luminary Drawings: Portraits of Film Directors by Nina Mae Fowler,’ will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery till October 1st, 2019.