My paintings find a new purpose for the marks and discarded objects (the traces of human activity) I discover wandering the city. The works are an exploration of how these marks comment on, disrupt and reinforce images of the human figure.
Like a slow diary
Compositions begin as photographs of paint marks, scrapes, stains and discarded objects combined with portraits of strangers using photo-editing software. The process is one of instinctual accretion and deletion. Once a strong composition reveals itself the process stops and the image is reinterpreted in acrylic paint on canvas.
Where does the art occur?
The current work came about as a result of frustration with the limitations of street photography, which I had been practising for five years. It became an exercise in framing pictures, imposing bogus meaning on them, and offered little room for creating interesting compositions. Also, viewing a photograph is very quick to process and I wanted to slow the process down.
So I started to combine sections of candid shots, photographs of marks found around the city, and portraits of strangers in digital collages or composites. These composites act as “preliminary drawings” for the paintings.
Working with paint places the work firmly in a tradition, making the work easily accessible and easier to contextualise for the casual viewer. The use of materials in my work is calculated. The paintings are made with workaday marks (like the whitewashes and graffiti cover-ups I am quoting) and cheap materials, to reflect the environment the images were found in, but the intention behind the composition is to imbue the paintings with the immediacy of advertising posters.
What’s that in the background?
My work is influenced by 1980s poster art, Brian Eno, Giorgio de Chirico, The Fall, Thee Oh Sees, concrete flyovers, discarded carrier bags, 1950s Bible Stories illustrations, Graham Sutherland, limp ham sandwiches, lies, Malcolm Morley, hopeless politicians and Peter Lanyon.
The work originates from a need to interact with the city visually. I am looking to create a space that doesn’t exist – one that is disorientating but familiar, attractive and ugly, one that expresses the eroticised anxiety at the heart of life in the early 21st Century.