Month: July 2016

Follow Me

Follow Me, 2016. Mixed Media on Paper. 70.5×100.5cm
Follow Me, 2016. Mixed Media on Paper. 70.5×100.5cm

I feel that feet or hands can be a type of portraiture.

What can one deduce in terms of age, gender or personality of ‘sitter’? It seems that such simple iconography can trace a whole genetic history. 

 

Buddha

Large Buddha holds up left hand in abstract background
Buddha. 1991. Oil on Canvas. 170x160cm

 

Style and culture meet where HANDS are signs for spiritual belief systems on one hand and contemporary Western reality on the other.

 

Almost hidden, in the top left hand corner of this work, an expressionist hand holds up a cigarette. At the lower middle end of the image, a spiritually loaded symbol is represented by the black and white image of the Buddha’s left hand. How is the sacred and the profane ever present?

 

A very carefully painted head of a benign Buddha and both hands all co exist in a colour laden abstract expressionist ground.

I am constantly concerned with the appropriateness with the choice of visual language in my craft. If both hands in this work were stylistically similar, the differences between the codes that each represented would not be as easily read. The challenge is to make a work that looks effortless and messages are received seamlessly.

‘Liebsen Series IV’ and ‘L’origine du monde’.

 

Liebsen Series IV, 1986. Oil on Canvas 69x54cm
Liebsen Series IV, 1986. Oil on Canvas 69x54cm

In an attempt to overcome writer’s block, I have been revisiting old work which look at HANDS in particular contexts and with particular intentions. 

Gustave Courbet’s painting, L’origine du monde’, was controversial in the Paris of 1866. Similarly, my work shown in Cape Town 120 years later, created much controversy in Calvinist, heavily censored, Apartheid South Africa. 

 

It is bewildering for an artist whose practice is solitary and introspective to be confronted with a public who is unprepared for the issues at hand.

The explicit content of this work underscored my interest in reclaiming the female nude in celebration of sexuality and eroticism as a positive life force. Colour and fleshiness of these hands invite the viewer into a lush, hot, private universe….perhaps not always a comfortable space. For me, history and specifically Courbet’s painting, legitimised and gave me courage to pursue certain ideas.

 

Untitled (Behind), 1988 Oil on Canvas 38x46cm
Untitled (Behind), 1988 Oil on Canvas 38x46cm

 

I continued exploring this area in ‘Untitiled (Behind). The hands here however seem to belong to a different person which suggests that there may be more than one protagonist on this ‘stage’. My work then and now, is fluid in terms of numbers and gender of personages on set.