When I was in Venice I came across some of Baselitz’s large scale figure paintings. George Baselitz is described as a Neo-Expressionist painter and this can be seen in his use of a thick definitive outline, and his radical use of colours however the painter sustains a very brutal choice of imagery and method of painting. This artist is also one that attacks his canvas with paint, we can see in his work that the artist is not afraid or precious when handling paint, and treats painting as a very physical act. I’m captivated by his monumental figures, they draw you in. The painting becomes somewhat confrontational because they are oppressing and force us to self reflect.
Baselitz’s figures are distorted and the landscape begins to evolve itself within the subject. like the work of Cezanne Baselitz is creating harmony within the composition of the canvas/within the landscape. He would also paint upside down to create distance from the fact that he was painting a figure.
His work seems not only to focus on the power of the subject but also on the vibrancy of colours. This is something I want to bring into my own work, the way he makes colour resonate, what causes one hue to vibrate when placed against another hue. I believe that the handling of colour is the main reason for painting therefore understanding this is essential.
I believe the idea of painting upside down could also be helpful because it aids you to concentrate on the piece as a whole image and to separate yourself from the notion that you are painting many forms within a composition.
Here is an image of me next to the George Baselitz I saw at the Venice Bienale to give an idea of the scale of his pieces.
Since considering the art of Cecily Brown and also some of Picassos early analytical cubist work I’m drawn to the idea of depicting figures that are ambiguous of gender. The idea of creating monumental nude figures that are not initially obvious to be male or female.
Over the summer I played the part of a teenage transgender in a welsh t.v. programme called ‘Gwaith/Cartref,’ this role involved a great deal of research into what it meant to be a specific gender and sex. male/female/trans etc.. I really tried to get my head around the idea that a person could genuinely feel trapped in the wrong body and how painful that would be, that one would see themselves totally different to how the rest of society sees them. Through my research what I learnt was that one could also not identify with either gender, or have affinity towards both (gender neutrality) . I found this idea fascinating, maybe, in the same way that sexuality is orientating towards, this could also mean that eventually we might live in a completely gender free society, maybe this is why I am currently drawn to creating depictions of androgynous figures.
I also believe that creating loosely ambiguous figures are powerful because the involvement of the background into the subject creates harmony within the composition of the canvas, this can be seen here within the works of Cecily Brown, and Picasso who was heavily influenced by Cezanne, a painter that heavily reinforced this notion.
Throughout my practice I’m continuously drawn back to the visceral, dripping canvases of Cecily Brown. Her work excites because her figures suggests being caught in sexual drama. Her medium reflects her imagery, She treats paint as if it’s flesh, she attacks the canvas with a loaded brush and in effect she creates these visceral figures, slightly androgynous, this wet composition enhances the sensation of the experience we witness.
I believe the artist achieves a sophisticated balance between abstraction and figurative which gives her work movement and drama, this is a concept I would like to bring into my own work. I would also like to play with the notions of creating a ‘dripping canvas’ that fluid look that can be achieved by adding substances to oil paint, to enhance the concept of transcending an experience.
I was drawn to the ambiguity her figures between where one figure begins and another ends. there is also ambiguity of gender. This is something I would like to explore further in my practice. The sensuous surface she achieves through the expressive handling of paint gives strong sense of place. I feel this is used as a means of breaking up the figures but also creating a harmony within the composition. There is a continuation between the action and emotion of the figures and the objects of the background.
For my final year I have decided to direct my focus towards depicting the human form. It’s what I’m always drawn back to, I find it’s the most obvious way of self expression and I’m always drawn to it within the art of others. I think the reason that I will always feel a desire to depict ‘the body’ is because it’s something we all have and I cant help being interested by it. Therefore by that notion alone I also believe it is the most obvious way to force the viewer to self reflect. Narrative is driven through mankind therefore the I believe the body is a very relevant subject to concern myself with as a young artist.