Friday, May 16, 2008

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I make art. Also, about why I make the kind of art that I do, which is mostly figure based. Last night I was reading a book called Spectacular Bodies: The art and science of the human body from Leonardo to now which deals with the convergence of anatomical models/diagrams and art. The author postulates that figurative art and medicine (and religion, for that matter) are very alike in that they are seeking to understand what it means to be human, to ‘Know Thyself,’ as the Greek aphorism goes.
I think that this is why I’m so fascinated with accurately depicting the human body. It’s like trying to figure out a piece of the puzzle. And maybe it is an act of appreciation - like the least I can do when confronted with such an awe-inspiring thing as a human being. But it’s not enough just to make a copy. The exterior must somehow describe the interior, or at least one facet or idea of it.
In this vein (no pun intended?), I’ve begun a new series of portraits that are in a traditional, Renaissance-like style of composed young women, but with jewelry that betrays something more visceral and fragile that is being kept inside. Like when someone shares something a little too honest for the situation - it is beautiful and true, but it makes everyone uncomfortable anyway. I like the idea of merging two traditional subjects, the portrait and the vanitas painting, in a way that is a bit unexpected and unsettling. The portraits are all about conveying wealth, power and beauty, whereas the vanitas paintings are all about conveying the unimportance and transitory nature of worldly things. Here is a 4x6” study for that series.
Also, here is a large (c. 3x4’) painting I just finished based on a dream I had of mushrooms and pear trees. I gotta look that one up in the dream dictionary, I guess. In the meantime, it looks good in my bedroom =)

1 comment:

anouk said...

what a strange dream, i loves dreams!
and they can be such inspiration, sometimes i dream of jewelry to make, they're wonderful! pity i don't have a jewelry studio at the moment.

I like your thinking on portrait paintings. I was never too interested in portraits but your twist on them makes me rethink!
'humanity' and fragility is far more beautiful than wealth and power and far more meaningful too.