This paper restores bodily practice in the perception and construction of a painted artwork that engages the visible world. My choice of Cézanne in the light of this concern is three-fold. Firstly, to counter his role as a painter on the road to abstraction in the story of Modern art, in order to reintroduce his continuities with traditional western genres. Secondly, through reading Maurice Merleau-Ponty to further explore Cézanne's self-portraits as acts of embodied engagement through the primacy of perception. This activity is mirrored in his self-portraits as the ambiguity of the self as subject, engaged in a confrontation with the reflection of the self as the observed other. Finally, I critique contemporary theories that read paintings, and by extension many kinds of artworks, as only images in a linguistic sign system bypassing the performance practices that they embody.