Statement New Work
01/05/12LOOKING FORWARD IN THE PAST
There is a line that cannot be drawn connecting the present with the past. It separates time from itself because all moments are ultimately destined to occupy both intervals. The internal movement between present and past – the ability of each time to be the other – makes the line of time untraceable and yet ineluctable.
My work is haunted by the certainty that modernity existed at every point in history, and myths and fables are created and recreated in the everyday. My practise expresses a modernity that emerges as the legacy of the classical era but also from the materiality of the process of painting. The physical character of painting may be able to capture the grand narrative of human history but there will always be something unresolved and intangible in a line that cannot be mapped.
I paint portraits of subjects who are themselves portrait subjects. I deliberately copy, rework, and recreate individuals from historical paintings. I restage the artistic process that was originally undertaken and explore the sensation of making and remaking the marks that created the subjects.
My work traces the line of time by creating an archive of human relations – accumulated, stored and now recovered – that map the internal connections between contemporary practise and the classical ideal.
I blank the subjects faces after I have painted them because I want to force the observer to re-examine the sense of portraiture as providing an instinctive perspective and an accepted history. The depthless strokes of white paint extend the narratives of the restaged subjects even as their presence interrupts it.
I slice visibly the delicate layers of veneer with loose non-aesthetic brushwork to conceal faces and isolate individuals. Portraiture involves exploring cultural attitude – aesthetic, social, political, and moral – through the sense of unique, individual memory and personal knowledge of past events. My marks make the subjects disappear and yet remain - moving beneath the surface of the painting - replacing classical form with material content.
As the physical structure of the work becomes meaningful, the process of painting asserts itself trapping time within the layers of paint that lie above and below the subjects. The physical character of paint overwrites the subjects and they are subsumed by the self same process that created them. What lies underneath the subjects becomes the subject itself as surface and depth exchange positions on the canvas.
The line of time can finally be imagined when the faces are concealed with violent strokes in gestures that complete the portraits. The marks of white paint are as related to the original subjects as classical modes are to today.
My work explores the interrelationships – past and present – between a multitude of realities that lie palimpsest within a single image. The delibarate acts of concealment means that ideas about privacy and secrecy cling to the body of my work.
The tracing of the line of time is the narrative of my artistic practise but it is the act of painting – the nature of it's processes of method in expression – that will always be the true subject of my portraits.