Consciousness and the body, and how they co-exist, has been a fascination of mine for many years. My drawing and painting practice has been engaged exclusively with portrait and figuration as a result of this compulsion. Spiritual practices and the influence of Descartes’ views of dualism have created a sense of mind and body as separate entities. Neuroscience and genetics, increasingly find evidence that there is no separation. Identity exists in every cell, and interaction with the world not only affects us psychologically, but changes us physiologically as well. Mind and body fit together in a mysterious way that we as yet are unable to fully understand. Engagement with these ideas has led me to ponder my choice of and relationship to my subjects in portraiture. Exploration of the connection between personality and physical presence, and how that translates into subjective interpretation on canvas, has become a large part of my practice.
The space between subject and artist is like an interactive current. The intense observation required creates a peculiar intimacy that frequently leads to very personal conversation. It's an artificial situation that paradoxically leads to authentic connection.Vulnerability is inherent to the situation. One’s body image is such an integral part of identity, and the artist’s gaze and hand is allowed access to this very personal space. When distilled, our politics, our culture, our social system, can be reduced to the simple dialogue between one face and another. After years of portrait painting it's become apparent to me that the essence of a person, one's consciousness, reveals itself through the nuances of line and colour in one's face. After a relatively short period of interaction, for most people, the face reveals all. A well-done portrait has the potential to be a unique record of the sum of an individual's experience, offering the opportunity for some form of engagement with that person, even in their absence.
Painting is my medium of choice. The act of painting introduces a temporal factor to the creation of an image. When I paint, I engage with that face, that body, over a long period of time, allowing for reflection and sympathetic expression through my own skin, muscles, bone; all the corporeal elements that are part of the work. The brush strokes I make are the trace of my body’s movement over time: layer upon layer. I trust that the interactive experience I’ve had with each model leaves a memory residue and informs every stroke in an intuitive and subconscious manner, capturing more than just resemblance, but some sense of perceived essence as well. Each subject engages directly with the viewer ‘eyeball to eyeball’, which, combined with the scale of the work, gives the subject a power and presence that encourages one to interact as viewer rather than voyeur.