Art, Identity & Place

How wild places, deep time and archaeology inform my contemporary art process

“Selfies” in oil paint

The genre of self portraiture, once limited to artists (or photographers when they shot a mirror-image), has been democratised with the invention of the cell phone and almost become the mainstream genre at present.

This  artistic genre could be described as one where viewer and artist share the same gaze. The viewer sharing the gaze can look into the artist’s soul and mind on one hand, or in some other examples of traditional art share the way that an artist of the Baroque for instance gave a self portrait to a prospective client to be ‘read’ like a CV where skill was displayed in the painting  of flesh and different fabrics as well as metal and other surfaces.

 

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Self-Portrait in Action. 2014IMG_2259Oil paint was the ideal  medium in which to render beautiful surfaces but now in the 21st century what does it offer the viewer and artist in this genre with its characteristic flat surface in comparison to performances or conceptual art projects about identity? Do the reasons for it existence still seem relevant?

What keeps me interested is that I can allude to past symbolism as well as explore psychological experiences, vulnerabilities and memories.  The qualities of transparency, semi-opacity and opacity within the medium help me to depict these transitions. By breaking up the form of the head with different objects that allude to the processes of sight and painting action I can denote moments when the artist in a sense “plunges into darkness” ( Derrida) that mentally exists  between observation of the image and paint application. In this small study I began with a drawn line and then moved into paint areas, transparent glazes and then back to the element of line. In one way the act of painting becomes a “selfie” and not my appearance.

 

Author: elainedesterre

I have been producing oil paintings, mixed media, prints (etching), digital prints and drawings for many years travelling to the Australian outback and overseas for inspiration and further education. My formal education consists of a PhD in painting and a BA in printmaking and my artwork is represented in public and private collections. My purpose and ongoing challenge is to create a gender-balanced and environment-focused iconography within the Western canon of European oil painting. These themes find expression within imagery about time, memory and identity as well as in geomorphology of evolutionary and environmental significance.

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