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Artist’s inclusion in prestigious exhibit earns praise from MPs

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Artist Lexy Correia received congratulations in the House of Assembly on Friday for having her portrait of a local burn victim accepted into the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibit. She thinks she is the only Bermudian to achieve this.

On Friday morning, Ms Correia received recognition and congratulations in the House of Assembly from One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Member of Parliament Jefferson Sousa and Deputy Speaker Suzann Roberts-Holshouser for this accomplishment.

“Last year there was an art competition in Dockyard,” said Ms Correia. “Dejon was there. I said I would love to paint you. I knew it would be a challenge. Shortly after that, I started looking into different portrait associations and came across the Royal Society of Portrait Painter. They have a category for Changing Faces. That is what sparked it in my head to paint Dejon for this exhibit/competition. I didn't enter to win that particular prize, it was just some kind of strange sign to me that I should paint Dejon specifically, as my entry.”

The Changing Faces category of the exhibition is associated with British charity Changing Faces which helps people who have had their appearance altered by medical conditions or injury. Her portrait is of local poet Dejon Simons who, as a teenager, experienced burns to his face and body after being involved in a motorcycle accident.

The winner receives £2,000 and a commission to paint a portrait for the Royal Society's permanent collection.

The saying goes that sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette and the same might be said for Ms Correia's artwork.

She mixes her own egg-based tempera paints using a technique that dates back to the old masters. Very few people today use it, as it is time-consuming. The paint medium involves turpentine which evaporates so it has to be mixed and applied very quickly. The paint is also temperamental (excuse the pun), and can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to dry, depending on weather conditions. The paint is then applied in many layers as thin glazes. Over time the different layers fuse together to give the painting a luminescent quality. They are known as optical greys and allow for a three dimensional appearance when viewed in person.

“I worked hard to replicate the texture of his skin,” she said. “I was trying to achieve the drama of the shadows but with the shadows it was hard to catch his eyes as they are dark brown. Usually, I paint the eyes in first, but in this case I did them last. I was a lot looser in this portrait though as I did want to be accurate but, I also didn't want to put too much emphasis on every part of Dejon's skin as I feel Dejon is so much more than his appearance.”

Ms Correia's piece was chosen out of approximately 2,000 entries into the exhibition. Half of those entries were from members of the Royal Society and spaces are reserved for them. There are only about 50 to 100 portraits accepted by non-members each year. Ms Correia is not a member.

“It is still in the prejudge stage,” she said, “so it could be rejected still. Most rejections seemed to come from having a cheap frame or an online entry that had been altered. I am very confident having made it this far, my painting will not be rejected at this stage.”

She received help with the frame from local art lover Elide von Alvensleben, who offered to help Ms Correia because she didn't want to see the piece rejected on the basis of a poor frame. Shipping company BWS-Boss Ltd helped with the cost of shipping her painting to the United Kingdom.

Ms Correia thanked her sponsors.

“I am very grateful,” she said. “I am now looking for sponsorship to cover the travel and possibly the accommodations for a trip to London in May, for Mr Simons and myself. I would really like him to attend the opening and meet the founder of the Changing Faces organisation”

The painting will go on show in London from May 8 to May 23 in the Mall Galleries in Trafalgar Square in London.

For more information about Ms Correia's work see www.artoflexy.com.

Portrait in tempera paints of poet Dejon Simons.
Lexy Correia and Dejon Simons with Mr Simons' portrait.

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Published March 03, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated March 02, 2014 at 4:44 pm)

Artist’s inclusion in prestigious exhibit earns praise from MPs

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