Lisa Graziotto
Showing 81cm x 81cm relative to 200cm x 200cm

The purple square represents the relative size of the portrait to a 2 metre x 2 metre maximum size allowed.

Lisa Graziotto

Home: Toronto, Ontario
Title: 38221
Media: oil on board
Dimensions: 81 x 81 cm


A few years ago, my life changed with a diagnosis of cancer. I was suddenly forced into a state of personal vulnerability while I had to embrace courage going forward. What I was confronting over the next two years of formal treatment was watching my body change from the familiar me to the “v. 2.0” me. During that time, I kept a daily journal of my thoughts and ideas for a series of paintings showing me bald, scarred, hooked up to tubes, and surrounded by seemingly endless rows of pills. One of the things that kept me going during the most challenging times of treatment and uncertainty was the idea of creating portraits to face my experience from a future position of health. My aim with the series is to convey to the viewer the emotional rollercoaster I experienced openly and honestly. This self-portrait represents me fresh out of the hospital after a stay for an infection that almost killed me and ready to face my third round of chemotherapy with more determination than ever. Using a larger-than-life tondo format is meant to be imposing on the viewer, but in such a way as to draw them into my direct gaze and urge them not to pity me but to walk with me through my journey. The title ‘38221’ is the number I was given at the cancer centre. When I heard it called, it was my turn to sit in the chair for the chemical infusion. This number became my identity, an attribute of how many have come before me, each in a similar state of vulnerability bolstered by courage. Condolences are not being asked from the viewer; I merely wish to express a straightforward view of my experience.


Driven by curiosity and irony, Lisa Graziotto’s work focuses on figurative narratives. From large-scale paintings to miniature portraits, each subject reflects a critical worldview and self-consciousness stemming from lived experiences. As a survivor, Lisa is interested in the liminal space between the subject and background. She invites viewers to take a second look at these relationships, the strangeness of the familiar and the subtle playfulness of these commentaries.