Thursday, 30 May 2013

A look back at my Dressing Up series of portraits

Dressing Up series 2010


This series of portraits explores the ephemeral state of facade and emotional projection within a defined context - that of playing at "dressing up".
Make-believe and playing at dressing up are childhood mainstays. When isolated and examined they act as a means to highlight how we form identity and recognition status within a social group and at the same time they are unstable and transient.

My subjects / sitters are drawn from a wide pool of celebrities, art historical sources and family members. 
This work was an attempt at bring together ideas raised by the cardboard construction series - that of delineated dress as form of identity, facade and projection of grandeur onto otherwise humble and meaningless material, with a forever shifting status and value.

While making this series, how the viewer evaluates these portraits was key - and like the ever shifting  status of the cardboard constructions, these portraits value rose and fell - and I think they continue to fluctuate and shift.
"Jen", 2010 Graphite on paper

"Hugh", 2010 Charcoal on paper.

"Michael", 2010 Charcoal on paper

"Seymour (After Holbein)", 2010 Oil Paint on Canvas

"Wellington (After Goya)", 2010 Oil Paint on Canvas

"Girl with the Oven Glove Hat (After Holbein)", 2010 Oil Paint on Canvas - DESTROYED

"The Girl with the Oven Glove Hat (after Holbein)" painting was not an attempt to subvert Holbein's use of portrait. If it is a subversion of anything, then it's a subversion of my own contemporary sensibilities as an artist.

Through the portrait, it was my goal to explore the aspiration aspect, the facade of grandeur - but look closer and my version falls apart, its mawkish and contrived - the make-believe is shown for what it really is, when acted out by an adult... a delusion.

Shortly after painting it, I destroyed it - I saw the frailty of the painting as a weakness. I now wish I had not destroyed it - looking back on it, the power lies in the frailty of the painting - "the trying" and "the reaching" without success, opens out the portrait to reveal a truth infrequently seen in portraiture.

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