With this series, it is my intention to explore some existential questions and artistic concerns; chief among them questions of art re-appropriation, authorship, commodity production, and above all the struggle for racial equality. The questions posed, such as what occurs to a creator once the work has been completed, open up a larger dialogue with the audience. The series questions particular social assumptions, as well as providing an institutional critique.
Over a course of several months, I have written to over 70 established musicians, and the series reflects that process. The rejection letters were used in each painting to physically build upon. In addition to the psychological aspect, the aim is also to create arresting and powerful portraiture that communicates determination, strength and spirit of achievement.
An image of an artist emerges, a practitioner of capturing the inevitability of lost time, and unavoidable end. Presenting an artist as a metaphor, further helps me explore universal themes which I believe are applicable to all. Each painting provides the viewer with a look inside the creative process, as well as an intimate connection to the subject; which creates a conceptual framing itself.
The size of each painting intensifies the viewer’s presence. As the viewer is confronted by a massive face, questions of sitter’s motives and intentions materialize.
Each sitter is set against a bare, texturized, predominately monochromatic background. The desolation of the figure reflects the solitude of the creative process, as well as pointing to the medium specificity itself; the materiality and the process become very important. The practical approach of covering the canvas surface with paper and wall compound, helps me further blur the lines between perception and reality, while the specificity of a limited pallet allows me to play with formal elements, particularly space and form. It also allows to question dimensionality, and increase the dramatic effect.
I would like to deeply thank the incredible artists who took a chance and posed for the series:
Mr. Barrett Strong
Mr. Sananda Maitreya
Mr. Huey Morgan
Mr. Iggy Pop