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Wish you were here – 2013
"Wish you were here" is the title of my current series in progress.
The main subject of this series is the presence of absence in terms of memory.
“First Home . 1969”
Oil and acrylic on plywood board – 79x79 cm
The methodology I have adopted for my practice-based research starts with photos (that I have taken or have found) where people are posing or acting. I then deconstruct the image, creating a contrast between unrefined drawing lines (painting with acrylic) and exaggerated realism elements (painted with oil) and then removing the person itself of the painting. Although the painting is about the people or the person, I never paint it. This approach enables the conceptualisation of complex relationships between visibility and invisibility as well as recognition and interpretation.
My paintings tell a story in the absence of narrative clues, and draw upon familiar personal history to navigate the viewer through the compositional space. The interchangeability of recognition and seeing - not as representation, but manufacturing a primary experience out of the past - is a central issue in the work.
My work is attacking a particular view that assumes absolute presence and absolute absence in memory. The way in which our memory is prompted to recognition is not simple but Gombrich isolates three aspects of remembering. Firstly, the subliminal persistence of the stimulus, as with an after-image, secondly, an immediate memory trace, which we can recall clearly for a few seconds until the impression becomes indistinct and fades, and thirdly, the anticipatory gap the memory fills, as when we complete a musical cadence.
Memory is always configured on a gap to re-member suggesting the forgetfulness, the loss upon which is founded. This forgetfulness is representative of the neurological activity of the brain. We are hardwired into narrative. Freud recognised the importance of the representation assembled from fragments reconstructing a story that divulges unconscious wishes.
This approach enables the conceptualisation of the relationships between mark and painting as well as well as referencing to theories regarding visibility and invisibility, memory and recognition such as those of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. I explore how the visibility/invisibility duality can be problematized through painting. Using the concept of ‘zones of indiscernibility,’ developed by Gilles Deleuze, I argue that the border between visibility and invisibility can be destabilised.
“Boy with jet pilot helmet . 1964”
Oil and acrylic on plywood board – 79x69 cm
Collection: Wallace Arts Trust