Hidden Identity

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As I scrolled through my daily dose of Pintrest posts one night, I came across this series of peculiar drawings that just got me thinking about how people define beauty in their own minds. Most people see beauty as the image that was implanted in our brains by society: the celebrities with perfect lives, the girls with perfect hair and makeup, and the guys with perfect bodies. What about the people who don’t have those qualities?

This series of graphite drawings was done by a brilliant artist by the name of Gillian Lambert. She named the series, Self Deception, and as you can see, there is resemblance in each of these drawings. She seemed to love the idea of abstracting the human face by bending, twisting, and pulling her own face to depict the grotesque, repulsive, awkwardness that is the human face.

I thoroughly enjoyed looking at her work because she really captures an image that is not only humorous and reflective of the hidden truth but also something very unpolished and almost disgusting at the same time.

Out of all the drawings in the series I’d have to say that String is my favorite. The intricate detail in each and every messy strand of hair and the pressure the string creates to deform the face is so beautifully and truthfully illustrated. It is definitely a piece to be appreciated. It almost makes you want to reach into the picture and yank the piece of string in order to free her strangled face. All of these drawings make me want to reach in and unrestricted her face from whatever is constraining it.

Another thing I really like about these drawings is how calm she looks in all of the portraits. I like that aspect because I feel like most people would expect her to look worried and trying anything to loosen the grip of her hands or pressure of the string constraining her face; but she looks as if it is supposed to be happening to her, like it’s “normal”.

I was trying to do a little bit more research, for my own sake, to see where her work has been shown. After reading a few blog posts about her I found someone who took pictures of her work in a gallery… but, of course, didn’t say which gallery it was at.

The link to her website and her work:

Rachael Venchus


  •  What is the significance, if any, of depicting only one side of her face (or disguising one side of her face depending on how you want to look at it) in each of her drawings?
  • Is there meaning behind the items she used to distort her face?
  • If these are self-portraits how was she able to so intricately draw something like Hands without help?
  • If you were to recreate something like this, which object or objects would you use to distort your face? Why?

23 thoughts on “Hidden Identity

  1. Very true these pictures are gruesome but it has a meaning… Like cinderella and the ugly stepsisters in a way… See it like that one song from Selena Gomez who said ur not perfect? Everyone is beautiful in thier own way and still live a happy ever after as well. So cinderella got married to the prince but in another sequel to the movie even the ugly stepsisters had thier happily ever after. I Love that you choose her to be your blog talk someone really had to step up and say that to be an artist you’re not obligated to draw or paint or sculpture beautiful things or people anything you choose can be beautiful you just have to put alot of creativity. thanks for posting this it really stands out great piece 🙂

  2. This is very interesting. I noticed a pattern in all these portraits she’s hiding at least one of her eyes in all of the portraits. I am sure there is a meaning behind each of these portraits. I am not sure what it is however; I believe that she is trying to show how different things can have different affects on your appearance. In one she’s covering her face with a shirt, I think the meaning behind that one would be how your dressing affects your facial appearance.

  3. I LOVED these drawings! I’ve never seen anything like this before. The one that took my interest was the picture entitled “Shirt”, which gave me the sort of “hidden beauty” and innocence feel. I’ve done my fair share of painting and drawing in thinking I was going to an art college after high school. To be able to draw a face, hands, or a body in general takes a lot of practice… We used to have these guidelines of how to draw the basic body, hand or face. Then we would have to practice drawing these as fast sketches over and over, until we were given a project that related to these exercises. For some people it may be easy, for me on the other hand I would still have to keep practicing. This picture shows talent of her shading with detail, while keeping it simplistic so the girl is the main focal point.

  4. These are such cool drawings! Each is enigmatic, and each sparks different feelings and emotions. Some people will see them and quickly glance away, while others will study them long and hard, as I did. I find them to be dark images: being dumped on, being covered, shielded, or distorted. These may be our own perceptions of how we see some people or sometimes how we see ourselves. I, too, am curious as to how these self-portraits were accomplished. Did she pose for them, with the images then created from photographs? Are they from her own imagination? I would like to find out more about them. Looking at these drawings, I think, is in some ways a basic social interaction. Many will look away in discomfort, while others will continue to look in an attempt to establish a connection and perhaps even somehow respond to the situation.

    I have often thought that because we hear “no” so much and fail to speak up or thoroughly listen, a drawing, perhaps in graphite or pencil, or a black and white photography piece of “See no evil, hear no evil” would be my project. Almost like Robert Mapplethorpe’s vanishing self-portrait, but with different hands of different races, such as a set of White, Hispanic, and African-American, to provide different tonal qualities. Each pair of hands cover eyes, mouth, or ears. Although they seem to come from somewhere beyond, I would hope to express that in fact they are our own hands – we are holding ourselves back. There would be more hands in the picture. These additional hands would be waving “no” fingers around the face. There would also be a pair of lips with index finger in front to denote quiet. Large white words randomly placed against the black background: silent, quiet, hush. Then, in smaller contrasting font: but listen and hear me out.

  5. Thank you so much for posting I love her work, and String was my favorite as well. I think that she only shows part of her face because the traditional sense of beauty is usually showing both eyes, or exaggerating cheekbones and jawlines-anything to make one look prettier. However GIllian shows her nose, one eye, or a cheek, because she does not want to use the traditional views on beauty on her work. Also, by showing only certain parts of her face I think it makes her work more dramatic.

  6. Good commentary on society’s cookie cutter mentality towards beauty, it seems that kids don’t get a chance to grow up anymore. I don’t look forward to the pressure my kids will face as they get older.

    I was surprised that these were done with graphite, even after looking at them I would have thought they were photographs without being told. It’s impressive to see something hand drawn like this and be able to correlate it with the materials we saw in class.

  7. These drawings looks so real that they actually look like they could be photographs of this artist. In all her drawings you can see at least the outline of one of her eyes while the other side of her face is covered up. I think she may do this because she is trying to get the statement of beauty across. Maybe that no matter if you cover up your face with something such as make up or whether they cover their faces for religious reasons that there is always some sort of beauty present. I too also enjoy the drawing of strings. This drawing looks so real as if an actual string was wrapped around her head. The expression on her face does show some sort of calmness as if nothing unusual was happening to her.

  8. Very interesting work, thank you for sharing Rachel. I’ll admit, I sort of chuckled a bit when I was saw the “spaghetti” drawing. The drawing that spoke to me the most was “foil”. I can’t pinpoint exactly why I like it but I do. I think the foil resembles something like a mirror. We tend to conform or mimic what society is doing, even if we may not totally agree with it ourselves. She covers most of her face because we typically only show a small portion of our true identity. We do that because we fear judgement and ultimately rejection from others.

  9. I enjoyed the portrait titled Hands. The detail in the hands is amazing, you can see the wrinkles on her palms and the tops of her hands. The shading is so well done it looks like a photograph. She seems to be moving her face around with her hands trying to change her appearance, suggesting maybe she does not like something about herself. Also, I believe to create this piece she may have stood in front of a mirror moving her face around to get an idea of what she would like to to draw. Then she transposed that idea on paper.

  10. Wow these drawings are great. I really think the title of the group is the meaning. Self-deception. I think she means to say that she is hiding truth from herself. But anyways I love the drawing titled Hands. It’s beautiful and it really speaks out to me.

  11. I really love these pieces and I too am blown away by how delicate and photographic looking the graphite medium can be! I wonder if the choice of medium is telling in the piece? If you think about it, graphite is one of the few mediums that can be erased, changed without making too big of a fuss to the overall piece. I wonder if that way of thinking–being able to make changes to yourself–factors into these pieces. I am also struck by the way that almost all of these depictions seem to be body-less heads in some kind of entanglement with no hands or ways of helping or rescuing themselves. And in the one instance we DO see hands, they seem to be the manipulator of the problem.

  12. Awesome detail in every one of these images they really look like photographs. The way she shades and highlights is just incredible. My favorite image is spaghetti on the head because as a child I used to do that too.

  13. These are very interesting pictures and they remind me of the Dove advertising campaign showcasing “real beauty”. My favorite is the one where the artist uses aluminum foil as a headdress. Outside the context of the other pictures, it looks like it could be a glamourous picture until you notice the texture of the foil.

  14. Good blog! I think she distorts her face to get a point across that everybody is beautiful in their own wat. My question like younhad is why does she hide half of her her face in almost every photo?

  15. I have never seen tin foil look so real in a drawing! Unbelievable detail and creativity put into these pieces. For some reason when I see these these drawings I think of young people, high schoolers in particular, who’s perceptions of themselves is distorted because of societies standards of beauty. These drawings depict a lacking feeling of self worth and perhaps display the images that girls may see themselves in comparison to other girls. These are pieces that can be taken many different ways though.

  16. I realy like the way you said that you want to reach into the piece and free her. I think thats probley the way she wanted to make the viewers feel. And i feel that there is meaning behind the items she uses to distort her face. Like in the picture were she does it with her hands because people distort their image by themselves.

  17. These are very interesting drawings. I like a detail and how real they look. The shading of the picture with the hands is amazing with all the detail.

  18. The thing that absolutely amazes me is the fact that I cannot find a single smudge that was not meant to be. To have that high of quality work is absolutely amazing.

  19. At first glance I could have sworn these were photographs instead of drawings, they’re amazing! I think she’s always covering a part of her face because everyone has different insecurities about different parts of their faces. For example some people think their nose is too big or are insecure about their skin, etc. These insecurities are pretty much always only noticed by ourselves; we are our own worst critic. We focus so much on the “bad” things about us that we make it a part of ourselves when we shouldn’t. I believe that is incorporated into the title of “Self Deception”

  20. This collection is just amazing. To me it’s very exciting to see something out of the ordinary. I think what she’s doing is trying to make people realize that inner beauty is what matters the most, appearance is just how the people look at you. The piece that really caught my eye was were she had a shirt on top of her face. I think that by putting that on her face somehow it had to do with body image. It doesn’t matter how you look, what clothes you wear, you still beautiful. Very intersting 🙂

  21. I absolutely love this installation and what each picture depicts. Each drawing is so well done and realistic but the distortion and coverage of each face is so intriguing and strangely beautiful. So awesome! It really gives you a new appreciation for what really matters: inner beauty

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