You don’t so much look at a Stephanie Rose portrait as it looks at you. That is, upon first encounter, the most striking thing is the confrontational gaze of the subject. Her subjects stare straight out at you, emotionless. The poses recall Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits in their directness.
Even if the body is in profile, as in her first portrait of her daughter, “Elizabeth,” from 1996, the face and gaze engage the viewer.
Of 25 paintings in “The Eternal Return: Stephanie Rose Portraits,” on view at the Albany Institute of History Art, only two contain no people (an empty chair stands in). The rest are compelling portraits of friends, family and patrons.
Her work is a pastiche of styles — portraiture combined with abstract expressionism, surrealism, cubism, realism, baroque painting and even minimalism — represented by the small, brightly colored rectangle found floating in most. There’s a sense she’s acknowledging her