The Bethlem blog has been maintained for two years now, and its In the Frame thread is of the same vintage. Portraiture has often featured in the series, it being a strong suit in the Archives & Museum’s hand. Indeed, the very first picture highlighted was a portrait by Lynda Bamford. This month we return to the work of this artist, but to a rather different kind of portrait. In place of the sedate, monochrome sketch of ‘Mother and Father Reading’, in ‘Psychedelic Woman’ we have an oil painting which is resplendent in colour, texture and mood.
The eyes, hands and breasts of the subject immediately confront the viewer of this portrait, though certainly not to erotic, nurturing or otherwise inviting effect. Her palms face outward in a demonstration of shrinking defencelessness, or to fend off an actual approach; her breasts, in their abstract regularity, offer an outright challenge to voyeuristic observation; and there is a soft sadness (and possibly some trepidation as well) about her eyes. The palette of colours employed is so rich as to be either exhilarating or terrifying, depending upon one’s point of view. Do the furnace-deep reds of her neck and breasts suggest multiple wounds of the heart, or an unquenchable anger? Is this, in the final analysis, a woman who wants to be seen at all?