Pendant portraits, often used to commemorate a marriage, are characterised by their sense of symmetry and mirroring. When hinged together, these form an intimate object which can be opened and closed for storage or transportation. Closing the object brings the two images into closer proximity, allowing them to exist in a private world away from prying eyes.
This work is based on a diptych by the sixteenth-century painter Ambrosius Benson, depicting a Flemish statesman and his wife. The sitters appear to face one another, yet they are also separated by a dividing line and contained within their separate frames. The object, which is necessarily split into two, seems destined for displacement as it drifts through the world.
Image: Shanti Shea An, Hinge, 2023, oil on three panels, steel hinges, dimensions variable.