With impressive attention to detail and impeccable precision, Lima-based artist Christian Fuchs recreates passed-down portraits of his ancestors. Fuchs started the series as a way to learn more about his genealogy, and ambitiously aims to embody the family members that came before him.
In order to aptly capture the spirit of each past family painting, the artist painstakingly studies every evident detail—from clothing and hairstyle to posture and expression. Though Fuchs is responsible for the concept and design of each photograph, he relies on a local tailor and jeweler to recreate the clothing and trinkets apparent in the portraits. He also works with a makeup artist who transforms his visage with both standard cosmetics and liquid latex.
Proper garments, accessories, and a full face of makeup may seem like enough to complete each transformation, but Fuch’s commitment to the peculiar project goes even further. “I recreate a moment lived by an ancestor using my body as a vehicle,” he says on The Harts Gallery website. “In order to accomplish this, I use costumes and characterization, I let my hair or beard grow, I shave; I perform all the necessary acts in order to appear as close as possible to the character I am going to play.”
The 37-year-old’s interest in his European and Latin American lineage emerged when his mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and his father abandoned him at the tender age of 10. It was then that he started to seek comfort in a collection of old family pictures. “As a child I looked at the photographs and played with them,” he explains. “If I didn’t know the names of the characters, I invented them. I remember watching them for hours, and feeling that they were watching me back.” Though his interactions with the pictures have changed, Fuchs still employs them as a way to connect with—and channel—their sentimental subjects. “I believe we are a product of all those people who came before us,” he says, “as if many beings dwell within us and would like us to hear their voices.”