Friday, February 17, 2012

The Diary

This painting is part of my solo show Rococo and is large 152x122cm oil painting.
This painting defies any specific story, apart from its title the Diary, and I am not a diary person, so there is no personal story behind this composition.  This painting just evolved as part of the process of working on this collection of paintings, Rococo, now showing as my new solo exhibition at the Doorway Gallery, Dublin (   This painting is made up of the elements that I have previously researched on for other paintings in this collection and past work.  Therefore, the initial inspiration behind this painting would have been a generic theme of a reclining female form.
However, I do have more thoughts on this composition, as ever since my daughter ( who was doing her English literature degree course at the time) challenged me by pointedly enlightening me on the dangers of  ‘scopophilia’ and subject matter, and which I had always known as ‘key-hole’ paintings, which describes the phrase so much better in painting terms.  Basically in the visual sense of the word it is the rather ‘creepy’ past time of a peeping tom, voyeuristically spying on an unaware person at their business (usually a woman).  Degas’ beautiful pastels of women at their toilette is one example in the painting world, that immediately comes to mind. And even though I love these works beyond words, the thought that the source behind them, would have any bearing on what I was setting out to achieve,  horrified and appalled me, no, no, no not at all what I am about. 
But it got me thinking, as to why my paintings where not like this.  And I think it’s because, my female forms are just that; they are not portraits in the descriptive sense of the word, they are more like symbols of women, and they could be you or anyone, with a bit of an imaginative leap.  They are also always engaged in existential activities like reading, thinking, writing and dreaming, and are just one of the component parts in my painted world, equal with that of say a vase of flowers or teapot. The way I use paint and my strong colour, is again not so much descriptive as tactile and sensory and therefore not illustrative or descriptive in a narrative sense.
working drawing for final painting The Diary
Therefore I see my paintings as ‘tactile’ paintings.  As Rothko writes in his ‘Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art”
‘that the goal of art is to express reality through plastic means not through description” He means by the word plastic the physical properties of the paint medium itself.
The Diary is therefore a painting about balance and fulfillment, self-contentment, and harmony, where in that one moment in time everything is right and pure. It describes a state, rather than a place.  The painted cat and bird are engaged in the painted world creating a dialogue within the space, which helps to introduce the elements of companionship, interaction and movement.  The cat also introduces the sense of touch that helps to enhance the tactile nature of my painting language. 
The landscape outside, set centrally, gives the composition a strong shape and form in which to balance the objects within my 2 dimensional space, and also describes the outside world that links and yet contrasts with the interior, thus creating a ‘threshold painting’. This helps me recreate a sense of expansiveness to counteract any sense of claustrophobia that an enclosed room painted or otherwise might suggest.
The shoes and diary symbolize action within the painting, either happening or just happened, which helps create a sense of movement, without having to paint descriptive movement.  I feel that descriptive or illusory painting is a very different type of painting, and one which I have almost entirely dis-engaged myself from.

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