Before photography upended the trade, portrait painters generally depicted their subjects in whatever way their clients instructed. Tim Doud does that, too, but not to celebrate social status. His posers are allowed to costume themselves however they like, trying on fanciful personae in the process. Thus the portraits in “Prologue, 19962016,” Doud’s show at Gallery Neptune & Brown, feature gear such as a leopard-skin dress, an American flag shirt and a kaffiyeh, the headscarf often worn by Middle Eastern men. One benefit of the varied wardrobe is that it helps distinguish the many pictures of New York artist Rodney Cuellar, who has posed for Doud regularly for 20 years. (The flag shirt and kaffiyeh are among his get-ups.)
Most of the works are oils on paper, although there are a few on linen, as well as several charcoals. Doud, who teaches at American University, often positions his subjects in direct engagement with the viewer, in the manner of ID photos and photorealists such as Chuck Close. But Doud doesn’t work from photographs, and sometimes depicts gazes and poses at an angle to the picture plane. The approach is painterly yet precise, and strongly conveys specific likenesses. It’s not just the clothing that gives Doud’s subjects their individuality.
Tim Doud: Prologue, 1996-2016 On view through April 1 at Gallery Neptune & Brown, 1530 14th St. NW; 202-986-1200. neptunefineart.com.