This self portrait has been living with me for a decade. However, too large to work on easily or to exhibit, I have been frustrated by the fact that I did not feel it accurately did anything: it didn’t feel like it represented me, at least not me in any current way. At the time of painting it I had moved into a house which worried me and I felt ‘watched’. The painting certainly gives some sense of this although the left hand side of the painting featured works remembered from drawing life models, during which I was watching them. Questions of ownership, voyeurism and perception of nudity were on my mind. The fact that my eye does not meet the viewer accentuated this. But the work is a large piece at 170 x 240cm and I felt that it had been something which I had moved beyond. Not wanting to exhibit works as old as this one (despite it having been out of the public eye) I decided to rework it, absorbing and being directed by some of the lines within the images, but essentially transforming it.
This work in progress is pleasing me greatly. I felt that I connected more with this image than with the portrait it had been. This felt it was resonating more with where I am now, which is interesting because I had to ‘lose myself’ in the process. I had to abandon the sense of wanting to remain and wanting to preserve myself. This is echoed by what appears to be waters rushing into the image with the bodies being steadily submerged within this rushing tide. Where the face used to be, there is open sky. In the same approach as ‘I am the Mountain’ sculpture, this opening of the image was a negotiation between gaining space and losing content. But who needs to see my face anyway? I am certainly not necessary as part of the ‘art’. I am the art. It is me. This is more a self-portrait than what existed before, because it is a window into my mind, into my imagination, feelings and neurosis. This work has a long way to go and is only at a very early stage of being a work in progress. But I thought it would be interesting to show how it has already evolved. In documenting this I am writing a diary in paint.
The ‘diary’ continues in more body painting. I wanted to get back into this so that I am comfortable painting models and recording them in the near future. When isolated, the area between my eye, nose and mouth, has become it’s own flesh painting. Identifying this area without my features is much more pleasing as an image and is one I will be working with over the next few weeks.
The paint is on me and I am Art.