Peter Stichbury is a New Zealand-born artist who paints oddly beautiful portraits. Each portrait has a level of distortion that brings a slightly surreal, almost ethereal, quality to his paintings. Perhaps this is way Stichbury cites neo-classical artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres as an inspiration, as Ingres was famous for distorting the human form, particularly in his painting Grande Odalisque (1814) where the female subject’s back is anatomically incorrect and disproportionately elongated.
“For all of their “nearly oppressive flawlessness,” Stichbury’s paintings and drawings do not look back to “the repository of classical ideas,” but to a world replete with cosmetic surgery, Photoshop, Facebook, Twitter and reality television, just to name a few of the ways society exhibits new and improved faces…In his best paintings, Stichbury walks a fine line between the unblemished and the grotesque without showing his hand, either literally or metaphorically. We tend to associate flawlessness with beauty, but Stichbury’s smooth, perfectly modulated, tight surfaces are unsettling. “