A quick glance over her shoulder is all Jordan Casteel (b. 1989) needs to capture her audience somewhere between seeing and understanding in this early self-portrait that prophesies the painterly acclaim her later works have recently enjoyed. Situated at the head of her portrait practice, Casteel’s investigation of her own visage speaks directly to her desire to seize a passing moment in brushstrokes, prolonging the fleeting by preserving the present. While less realistic than a photograph, the artist’s portrait is arguably more true, in trading a definable space for greater emphasis on her facial features, her hair, her jewelry – the facets of her physical self she believes make her who she is. Acting as both painter and sitter first, Casteel centers herself in her own identity before ever attempting to put other people down on canvas. The present lot’s illustration on the first page of the Denver Art Museum’s 2019 solo exhibition catalogue bespeaks its inimitable role in foreshadowing Casteel’s now-iconic facility in the genre, while simultaneously reminding that the artist must start by looking inward in order to understand the outward. Interestingly, Casteel’s navel-gaze is directed at a focal point over the viewer’s opposite shoulder, implying that what the artist seeks lies beyond the audience too. “When I’m painting, there’s very little I can do but trust my hand – everything else seems to disappear. When I get started I go somewhere else, and I feel a sense of peace that is similar to meditation” (J. Casteel, quoted in R. R. Hart, “The Glance and the Gaze”, in Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, exh. cat., Denver Art Museum, 2019, p. 11). She may go somewhere else, but her subjects remain firmly in time, for even when glancing behind, the artist is always looking ahead.