An Introduction to Narrative Portraiture
By H. Michael Sanders
Pictures tell stories in a different manner than do words, but rich and textured stories nevertheless. The shopworn notion that a picture is worth a thousand words, widely attributed to Fredrick R. Barnard from an article published in the 1920s about advertising, underscores the traditional use of art in society prior to the modern era. In this regard, the history of art is primarily a survey of the use of imagery to convey allegory, history and theology to a population of largely illiterate viewers. Think stained-glass scenes in cathedral windows, religious paintings of scenes and stories from the Bible, the historical pageants documented by royalty and nobles in commissioned paintings of their exploits, and scenes found carved into walls, tombs, monuments and plaques throughout the ancient world.
The eerie quality of familiarity, amid the influx of disjointed and incongruent elements found in the work of Boryana Rusenova-Ina, functions like an echoing memory in our mind that we can’t quite tune-in clearly or fully recall. Teetering between portrait and landscape, her paintings imbue the inhabited environment with a distinct personality that simultaneously reflects our expectations and renders them strange and unfamiliar.