Philosophy, in generating form in the shape of concepts becomes a practice parallel to visual art practice, which also creates at least the illusion of three-dimensional form through the manipulation of shape on a flat two-dimensional surface. Philosophy and art are here in mutual relation through the medium of practice, and philosophical concepts and art forms become interchangeable and well met on the same plane of becoming. I am a visual artist and writer. I work figuratively, shaping concepts, manipulating form, and always working at the interface between representation and abstraction where any amount of distortion and transformation can occur before, if I am lucky, I achieve a level of resemblance.
This is a new year and a new blog…..today, my travels have become less solitary
The relation, or otherwise, between different techniques, and the properties and characteristics of the materials I use are, for me, as important as the work itself. A line defines a contour, the turn of a head, the flex of a tendon, or delineates the ravages of pain and time on skin. A brushstroke becomes a sinew or a vein. Fluid oil glazes become layers of flesh. The touch of a highlight changes the mood in a second, the smallest erasure can make a drawing ‘sing’. I am constantly deeply awed by the materials that I work with.
The Dis/Figuration project as a whole is defined within the context of contemporary art but it draws on other discourses that are influential both for me personally, and for the nature of the work. Philosophy grounds me and underwrites the general influences of art practices over time, especially those concerned with figuration and portraiture, as well as the influences from other forms of practice such as surgery and architecture. Other artists’ work is also crucially important of course, not least in terms of context, and very generally, my work draws on the classical techniques of the High Renaissance and on British figurative painting since the 1940’s, as well as a lot in between. I am also indebted to classical and contemporary anatomical and medical illustration, architectural drawing and illustration, and photography. Master draughtsmen of the Renaissance, and modern painters like Lucien Freud and Ken Currie aside I must acknowledge the work of Anglo-Irish painter, Francis Bacon, as having perhaps the most profound overall effect on my own practice. Bacon’s work was wholly figurative at a time when figuration was an unfashionable word in contemporary art. His approach to the body was however, as is mine, far more than simply representative.
My enduring passion for drawing and painting the body has survived through years of study of human anatomy, and I have reached the point where an exploration of the human form now involves an approach to the figure that breaks it down – the Dis/figuration. I focus on the body’s inherent fallibilities and weaknesses, both physical and emotional, while at the same time I must acknowledge the powerful presence that the figure maintains both on a single canvas, and in the history of painting in general. My aim is to create images that oscillate between the objectification of the human form as a harmonious but often fragile structure, and the subjectivity of the figure as interpreted through my own physical, emotional and expressive affinity. The distinction between form and figure is deliberate. This is because I believe that to use the two terms interchangeably is to ignore the delicate but very real difference between representing physical form, and creating a resemblance.