Stemming from a desire to challenge the conventions of traditional portraiture, Drury has recently created this body of six oil paintings. He carefully selected affluent members of society to sit for him, and rather than acquiescing to expectations of flattery, he exploits the power of oil paint to describe their corporeal flaws as precisely as possible. Finding liberation in this reversal of patronage roles, Drury focuses on the organic quality of the flesh and shows the animalistic side of humans that we so commonly attempt to conceal. The six works feature a single subject, executed with a painstaking degree of realism.
The small-scale portraits capture the condescending and supercilious attitudes of the sitters, who gaze at the viewer with an air of disdain. Set against solid backgrounds, the sitters seem separated from the outside world, and their lifeless artificiality imbues the works with a sense of isolation. In an attempt to expose their vanity and the disconnect that exists between the corporeality of the body and the abstraction of identity, Drury meticulously renders facial details, paying special attention to imperfections and blemishes.
His skillful use of light and shadow in portraits highlights the contours of the sitters' faces, while the subtle glossy backgrounds further accentuate the tactile nature of the skin and hair. Jan (2011) capitalizes on the oil paint medium to convey the fleshiness of her wrinkles with a photographic precision, and Anton (2011) depicts strands of hair and follicles with a similar exactitude. Overtly descriptive, the portraits unmask the suppressed animal qualities of humans and challenge the noble and aggrandizing aspects associated with traditional portraiture.