Kirk Demarais’ Family Portraits

Published July 29, 2009 by Graham


Kirk Demarais‘ series of eerie and ingenious paintings portray cinematic family units coming together for traditional portrait sessions, from There Will Be Blood’s loosely bonded Plainviews to the plucky, hapless Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Vacation. Portrait studio photography on its own is already captivating enough as a genre to inspire dense archives of cyber-entertainment, but Demarais takes the obsession a step further, embellishing these “studies in pure affectation” (as he refers to them) with subtle undercurrents of emotion. Because we already share a preternaturally intimate understanding of these fictional families’ delicate dynamics, Demarais makes the viewer a voyeur, allowing us to gaze through each image’s “transparent veneer.” I think my favorite might be Demarais’ spin on The Lost Boys:

I count The Lost Boys among the top five most influential films of my youth. (Incidentally, the others are Pump Up the Volume, The Karate Kid, Footloose, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.) I wanted to see what it might look like if mom would have talked to the boys into a photo shoot in an effort to redefine their post-divorce family unit. I could see Sam (Corey Haim) getting into it (he may have had some say in the cheesy curtain backdrop) while Michael (Jason Patrick) would have had to struggle to tolerate such an outing. Keifer Sutherland’s character David might have provided more visual interest, but the notion that he and his dad would ever get together for a photograph was too far fetched.

Check out the whole series through August 8th at Gallery 1988’s current show, a love letter to cult films entitled Crazy 4 Cult.


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4 comments so far

  1. Corey says:

    These portaits are incredible.

  2. Dave Medlo says:

    Agreed, this is brilliant and inspired nork.

  3. Dave Medlo says:

    nork… I meant work. Sorry.

  4. smacleod says:

    Double take. Closer look. Realization. Laughter.