I was a little stuck thinking what work I should write about next, then I walked past this one in the hall and thought perfect……..
This work started out as an first year course study project in 2002. By randomly selecting a picture and creating my own interpretation of it.
I chose a detail from a painting called ‘the annunciation’ – This is the point I confess I cannot remember who the painting was by, and I didn’t write it in my visual diary either. To the left is the page of my visual diary that mentions the painting it is the small black and white image of it at the bottom that is fuzzy….. someone will recognise it, surely.
Fast forward approximately 7 years.
Post university was a difficult time for me creatively. I had retrain myself just to instinctively create again.
When I was cleaning out my Uni stuff I found my coloured works for the Annunciation (refer coloured pictures on the journal page above). I had painted this small work with artist grade oil paint on clear printing film and was intrigued by the way the light streamed through them like a stained glass window. The next few months it sat on the window ledge up against the glass to inspire me day in, day out.
Still in my low-funk period I came up with a plan – I have always been intrigued by the relationship between the visual composition of the work and the ‘readers’ interpretation. I wanted to play with this idea. I decided to explore this and take the easy road by recreating a previous work and randomly select an accommodating shape (a shape that would perform well as a silhouette image). I wanted it to be interesting and full of subtle references and read like a storyboard puzzle.
I found a mass manufactured print in a thrift shop for $2 (it was of African animals…..) that had been printed on fine raw linen on board and framed – this was my base. I then chose a small pistol as the silhouette and the annunciation work as the image. I really wanted to emulate the stained glass effect of the image on plastic so I blacked out the surrounding space and whited based the silhouette in prep for the final images. If you’ve done colour and light reflection studies you will understand the mechanics of this. For those that haven’t, the very very basic explanation is – Black absorbs light and white reflects it. The next steps were carefully measuring out the areas and visualising and marking in the colours required and placement of the images – then PAINT!!
By the way, I wasn’t concerned with technical proficiency of the paintwork this piece was purely a play on readings. Hence a little rough in the details.
What can you see?
46cmHx86cmW, Oil on Linen board. 2009.
Some of my friends that know me well have decoded the piece in one go… others see different bits each time they see it.
For the sake of this post I will give you my ‘authors intentions’ a perspective that rarely accompanies the work when viewed. In my ‘creative block’ I was at odds with myself, experience moments of clarity and direction, coupled with internal conflict and doubt.
This translated into:
- Stained glass effect = fragility and coveted beauty/talent contradicted by the overall shape of the image.
- Small handgun = control, fear, oppressive, death and/or protection, safety and sense of comfort – a visual oxymoron in itself.
- The directions of the hands. If you start at the golden hilt and travel the eye up the hilt to the middle and then the barrel reading left to right you will see the following.
- The golden hilt: the hands are slightly open and appear to almost hold something down.
- The blue hands are facing downwards moving in the opposite direction away from the trigger. Provoking thought before action.
- The green hands indicate ‘last chance’ as you cock the hammer there is no way back. A washing of the hands.
- The purple image hands are in the same original pose instead of being viewed as ‘slightly open and appear to almost hold something down’ as in the golden hilt. The image with only a partial view of the hands, and emphasis on the right hand appears to guide the eye up to the hammer and at this point the decision is made.
- The central and largest portion of the image is presiding over the trigger and both hands are centred directly above the trigger – here is the moment of action.
- The chamber portion of the work has two sets of hands that appear frantically placed 3 of the 4 hands are willing the bullet to leave the chamber, only 1 hand is in resistance.
- The second to last segment, tries to vainly push back the decision but is overpowered.
- In the last segment 3 hands confirm that the action is final. Probably resulting in tragedy as a handgun’s only function is to kill. Although you could view this image as a kind of tarot card reading and turn it all around by way of death metaphor is followed by rebirth and better things.
There is also the underlying theme of war and religion and social acceptance, cultural differences, conflict, choices and consequences – the list is endless.
I painted this whilst I was at a low point in my creativity and experiencing internal conflict, this painting became so much more than that by the time I’d finished it.
Below are detailed pics of this painting: