I initially draw a link between this and Matisse’s Blue Nudes, perhaps only because of the shapes – the folded up legs and body in the frame, but also because of the reduction towards shapes that fundamentally define the person. Here I’m seeing a hierarchy of detail and darkness drawing me in towards the face and eyes. The expression is guarded, tight-lipped and looking up from under eyebrows that seem also to be ‘tight-lipped’!
Two marks under the eyes are like war paint.
Daniel looks young. The thin, chiselled face contribute to the youthful look as does the featureless skin. I would be interested to see how very old people with more skin features are painted by EP but I can’t find any!
There’s a kind of contradiction in the atmosphere of the painting: the face could be threatening, hard like an armed criminal who you cannot trust and must be cautious of… but the reclined pose is soft, more like a teenager in their room, hunkered in the corner and about to pout “what? I’m not doing anything wrong! I’m just existing here! Pardon me for just existing!”. Maybe he doesn’t look quite THAT young!
There’s an extreme and expert use of the more-detail-at-the-focus technique which is very effectively used by many painters in different ways. Daniel’s face is carefully proportioned and painted but his clothes look painted from a greater distance… unsharp and more watery, a broader brush.
Marc is monochrome. This is a an etching on laminated paper; a sepia-like effect – soft highlights. Compared to Daniel this face is fuller and rounder but just as sparsely described.
The single visible eye fixes the viewer but the atmosphere is neutral, not tense or relaxed. His hair and eye are strikingly dark but nothing else – facial features, shirt and background are described using a tight range of paler tones with the added touch of darker shadow in a few small places – inside the shirt collar, the mouth.
Again it is the face that is shaped accurately with all else drifting slightly into the flow. Some very hard edges and high contrasts take control of the face shape and the eyes and mouth whereas the shirt is left to find its own way.