The portrait is one of the most highly regarded of all art genres, its history going back at least 5,000 years to ancient Egypt and possibly beyond. With the development of the art academy in the 16th century, portraiture was placed high on the hierarchy of acceptable subject matter. Henry Ward has joined this long, age-old line of portrait art and artists, having practiced this branch of art for more than twenty years.
Ward’s method and philosophy of painting are based on the techniques developed over the centuries by the Old Masters “in whose works light represented the presence of the Divine — darkness, our universal origins.” In his studio-based practice, Ward employs traditional materials in his selection of oil paint and Belgian linen; however, stylistically, he seeks to blend the old with the new.
He acknowledges the influence of such illustrious artists as Caravaggio and Rembrandt, and the impact of their use of chiaroscuro. This use of strong contrasts between light and shadow is especially evident with his most recent work, the paintings for From Darkness to Light, which capture key figures in Bermuda’s diverse communities.
Ward sees this approach to portraiture as moving beyond a mere portrait, in the direction of abstraction; that the work is philosophically grounded with the interplay of light and dark as spiritual metaphors, and the portrait a springboard into a wider level of inquiry into the nature of being.
Exhibition curated by Dr Charles Zuill
From Darkness to Light: Portraits by Henry Ward is on display in the Watlington until October 15. With support from Christian Humann Foundation, Bermuda Centennial Foundation and D&J Construction.