Body Works

From 2010 onwards a new direction of image making from previous work emerged by employing a method of painting directly onto the human body and then making direct contact onto the paper or canvas

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Extract from work statement 2014:

My imperative to interpret the world through the medium of paint is an attempt to glean some meaning from this present time when everything seems to be walking around on hind legs. I feel that the Whirligig of Time is about to make its presence felt: socially, politically, culturally, fiscally and ecologically.

"Green Man" 2011 10 pieces Oil on paper 190 x 81cm
“Green Man” 2011 10 pieces Oil on paper 190 x 81cm

From 2010 onwards a new direction of image making from previous work emerged by employing a method of painting directly onto the human body and then making direct contact onto the paper or canvas, depicting the human form articulated in ritualized gestures and stances. The suggested human shapes in the images, to me, embodied the notion of totems, or figures engaged in what might be primitive rituals and dances and by 2012 the tribal body and male / female archetypes had distinctly Primitive overtones with life-size figures standing and crouching amid imagined tree – lined glades and water courses, ponds and springs – places that once represented places of cultural significance, where spirits were honored by our ancestors.

The process that gestates my work is essentially an agitation of the relationship between the past and the present, exploring through personal marks and gesture, a symbolic reference point from which to view the ancient or natural world and to communicate the essence of that to the onlooker. The paintings open up narratives often, but not always, set in enclosures of imagined notional natural landscapes.

The work references a spectrum of human activities and states; the primitive elements in my recent work express for me, aspects or traces of our ancient instincts. I am interested in how these interact with the fate of living in a modern world. One interpretation of our current state being that almost everything today seems so intent on lurching towards hell in a handcart. Secularism and capitalism have triumphed over soul and humanity – it seems – and authentic creative arts fragmented and morphed into mediocrity by technology and through the sheer amount of corporate culture which has become mainstream diet with the result true creativity has become undervalued and undermined in what is at best populist, sterile and sometimes hostile environs. And yet we seem to continuously search for an element of fulfilment and meaning in the void – something that borders on the metaphysical to counteract the Zeitgeist.

We live with our present tied up with our past. We value life and destroy it simultaneously and yet have the capacity to be quite unaware or unconcerned of the existence of the soul. This dichotomy is explored in the traditional pictorial form of my painting which has elements of the construct of time in its performance and ritual in its making – the resultant images suggest a primitive energy embracing qualities of ritualistic dance and visionary states. Incidentally the work casts a voyeuristic light on the nature of the passivity of elements of modern life. The viewer becomes a passive voyeur to the dance of life.

Themes

Concerns of the present day are referenced in archetypes alluding to perceived tribal elements observed in primitive and evident in society to-day.

My creations occupy the same space and announce their presence by way of an expressive use of color and form to convey atmosphere in the narratives set amid the glades and water pastures – although the rural bucolic is not the main focus but more often a backdrop (or stage) for the scene of visionary antics (the Shamanic Clown) and entrances and exits of mankind (as depicted, for instance, in Shakespeare’s Seven Ages from “As You Like It”.

For me, the images form part of my visual lexicon to voice my ripost at the world we live in and at the same time let fly ancient elemental forces in the Whirligig of Time – what goes round, comes round.

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