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    “Portraits by David Iacovazzi-Pau”, the latest series by the artist, opened at the Swanson Reed Contemporary Gallery on November 1st. David was born in Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and began his education in fine arts at the age of 15 in Belgium. He later attended the Centre Académique des Arts in Luxembourg and immigrated to the United States in 1997, studying at Indiana University Southeast.  In a sit-down with Iacovazzi-Pau, he talked about his latest collection of portraits.

    You focus a lot on the human form in your work, especially in this latest series of portraits—why does this subject appeal to you? 

    I find great pleasure in it and I choose to focus on humans because we are a complex breed, always changing and therefore interesting to work with. I am really concentrating and enjoying the different personifications and behavior that someone has. 

    How do you choose portrait subjects, are they someone you know? I know all of them, but it helps if I've known them for a long period of time. 

    It is a certain quality that appeals to me which I may not recognize right away, but I just know it is there. The faces are what inspire me to paint the selected subjects and are the starting point. 

    What mediums do you work with? 

    Actually, this is the first time where I am doing a show that displays my whole process. I wanted to be transparent about it. Starting with photographs, then on to sketches and drawings, and finishing up with the paintings. So if you go, you will see all three stages.

    What do you think are some important things you capture in your pieces? 

    Well, that is not up to me; it is up to the receiver. The reason why my titles are not the full name of the subject, just the first name, is because I don’t pretend to know them completely after I am done working with them. That would be pretentious, we hardly know ourselves. So I, as an outsider, can only portray what the subject offers and, if I am lucky and dig deep, then some interesting aspects can come out.

    How much do you contemplate what the background will say about a subject? 

    That depends; the background is always a difficult aspect of the painting to approach. I sometime leave it monochrome in order for the viewer to concentrate on the person. Or I will include a setting that is typical of the subject, which is why I like to go to their house. For example, in the largest portrait of Will Oldham, he is sitting in a chair and in the background there is a surfboard and books. He is an avid reader and a curious person, and the surfboard was a nice quirk. Another one is of Ron Whitehead sitting on a Victorian loveseat.  

    How do you know when a piece is finished? 

    I have to go with my instincts, because if I don’t I will just work on it and work on it. 

    Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about? 

    Yes, my paintings do not start with me standing in front of the canvas with a paintbrush in hand. I can think of an image that I want to work with for a few months. That’s where I am now, and it is really exciting.

    “Portraits by David Iacovazzi-Pau” is running from November 1st- 30th at the Swanson Reed Contemporary Gallery – 638 East Market Street. Opening hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am- 6pm. More of the artist's work can be viewed at

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    About Ashlie Danielle Stevens

    I am a freelance food, arts and culture writer. Among other publications, my work has appeared at The Atlantic’s CityLab, Eater, Slate, Salon, The Guardian, Hyperallergic and National Geographic’s food blog, The Plate.

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