This new body of paintings continues my exploration of the human figure and the painted surface through two subjects – the dance figure and the seated or standing figure.
The dance figure paintings arise out of a drawing research project with Scottish Ballet where, since 2012, I have been attending rehearsals to undertake intense observational drawing of the dancers in movement. The standing or seated figure has been a subject for much longer and seeks to express the more contemplative, interior side of us.
The poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke has inspired me for many years and in particular the Sonnets to Orpheus and the Duino Elegies. In the larger paintings I have consciously lifted phrases from Rilke’s poetry and scratched them into the surface, embedding them in the paint above the figures. Hence the titles of these works – ‘Truly being here is glorious’, ‘Be ahead of all parting’.
Stephen Spender in his commentary on Rilke’s Elegies (Hogarth Press 1963) suggests that these two collections, “may be regarded as the expressions of two distinguishable but inseparable moments in Rilke’s attitude to life’, that of Praise in the Sonnets and Lament in the Elegies. It struck me that these two themes seemed to somehow reflect the two sets of figures that I was painting - praise as in the dance figures and lament in the standing and seated figures - although there is praise and lament in both. The viewer will, however, draw his or her own conclusions.
Either way, all figures grow out of a dialogue with the paint and are invented and imagined, not specific to an individual. The act of painting is an emotional and physical process for me. Paint is layered on over a period of time, often scraped back and added to again to create a ‘working surface’ on the canvas where I can move things around until a figure begins to emerge. The paint is applied with brushes, palette knives and rags, as though I am trying to uncover or excavate something, allowing the figure to emerge over time.
10 September - 26 September 2014
Panter & Hall
11-12 Pall Mall
Monday to Friday
10.00 AM - 6.00 PM
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
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