Cycles of desire / an exploration of desire, lack and mortality through the female form.
This was the first of two solo shows I have coming up this year. The opportunity to use an entire Gallery space to show a body of work is valuable on many different levels, but for me, at this stage in my practice, the most crucial appeal lies in the chance to show different elements of my work together; allowing for figuration and abstraction, painting, installation and digital work to come together as a cohesive whole.
The work uses the tradition of portraiture as it’s starting point and touches on traditional vanitas themes along the way. Youth and beauty allude to their natural counterpart of death and decay; as well as the contemporary idea of a woman’s increased awareness of her own mortality, conscious that she faces a loss of visibility long before her actual loss of life. It touches on the contemporary obsession with our own reflection, the iconic image and the capturing of the ‘perfect’ selfie; As if this idealised avatar version of the self could be impervious to the affects of time, imperfection and age. But primarily it is about the process of image creation itself, which seems directly to reflect the theme of desire and lack at the core of the subject.
The basic human desire for unity, a sense of wholeness and certainty is in direct conflict with the ever changing, fragmented nature of existence, giving rise to a perpetual cycle of desire and lack. In this case the ever-elusive object of desire is represented by the idea of ‘beauty’. The image making process in this body of work mirrors the same cycle of initial elation at the idea of creating perfection, followed by the inevitable disappointment and a sense of lack caused by the impossibility of the task.
The cycle begins with the initial source photograph, which almost acts as a silent witness to the process of painting taking place around it, and during it’s time discarded on the studio floor also becomes transformed. These ‘damaged’, discarded prints are then taken up again, scanned and re-printed. ‘Unsatisfactory’ paintings are covered by whiting out and washing off, the process of which re-activates the old rejected layers of water-soluble ink, leading to a merging of the old and the new.
This technique begins to develop a visual language internal to the painting dialectic between the imagined finished image (desire), the dissatisfaction with the resulting image (lack), and the return to the image (desire) in an attempt to draw something new from it. Engaging with the processes of creation and destruction inherent to painting, this series attempts to give expression to a constant cycle of desire and return to lack. The ultimately futile yet unstoppable desire to create wholeness, unity, perfection or even in the simple case of art – a ‘finished’ piece, is laid bare in all it’s stages.