Footloose and Fancy Free
What’s making me blush?
In these works, I explore the relationship between the formal and pictorial language of my paintings and the production of subjectivity. I am adopting an embarrassingly expressionist, autobiographical mode that I wince at when I observe the crass, clichéd, sentimental qualities that arise, and their sticky associations with my ‘self’. There is something intrinsically shameful about using one’s own biography as artistic material, especially when considering this highly mediated form of self-presentation concerning the judgments of one’s peers, and in the scholastic and commercial contexts in which it circulates as art.
The egg is a motif that appears in most of the work I’ve presented here as a fecund, polysemic symbol of potential - a comic, cosmic, feminine freedom linked to the body that works in counterpoint to these anxious representations of the self on display. As a symbol and a form here, it links sexuality with the abstract potential of paint to free oneself from the binds of self-representation, though from a contemporary perspective this thematic from the language of traditional painting can also look hopelessly anachronistic. The egg is now a parodic symbol of comic, if not cosmic failure.
The large work, Self Portrait 25 Blushing, reflects on this problem of painting, freedom and self-presentation by inserting my own image into the pictorial structure of Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. I have re-populated Manet’s bar with details particular to my own place of work at an ‘art’ bar on K’ Road. The thematic significance of this work in relation to the others shown is partly to do with the double-edged materiality of its production. It recognises that the individuating practice of painting as a grounds for freedom is also, in fact, work.