'Three Self Portraits with a White Wall' 1957, John Bratby
Oil on hardboard, 241.9 x 196.9cm
Accession number WAG1232
Bratby won the first prize in the junior section of the first John Moores Liverpool Exhibition with this picture. The twenty-eight year old painter's vision is both matter-of-fact and elaborate. Most self-portraits involve using mirrors but few incorporate them in this obtrusive manner. Bratby paints himself in the act of looking at himself on separate occasions during the painting of this self-portrait.
The mirrors reflect a true-to-life scene, the paint is applied quickly and vibrantly, and there is an offhand air to the work's design, all of which creates a sense of honesty and immediacy. But the relation between the three versions of the figure implies a more fragmented, psychologically complex narrative.