Mother Earth and the Nasty Little Fucker
Mother Earth and the Nasty Little Fucker was triggered by a doodle that acted as an armature for the painting. As the painting evolved, traces of imagery as it mutated were retained. What is interesting to me is that those changes, despite apparently no longer being visible, affect the sense of what remains in the painting. As writer Brian Dillon suggests erasures always leave their marks: ‘there is always some detritus strewn about in the aftermath, some bruising to the surface from which word or image has been removed, some reminder of the violence done to make the world look new again (1).
The imagery that filters into my paintings, after the initial doodle, comes from disparate sources; comic books, storylines, political characters, personal histories, movies, art. This imagery is also infected by the reality of contemporary politics, in which buffoon-like characters take up roles as leaders of nations and representatives of democracy. The palimpsest provides me with ‘a model for remembering, a way of understanding the past as something constructed retrospectively in the present’ (2).
In Mother Earth and the Nasty Little Fucker, a French beret becomes the Kaiser’s helmet, becomes a riding hat, becomes a toggled hat. All those traces of things that are buried underneath are still perceptible on the surface. The two characters represent the worst of humanity and the alterity of nature as humanity now sees it. The mother Earth figure simultaneously evokes the legendary drag performer Divine and Thing from Marvel comics. Arguably, both are considered monstrous but perhaps it is the ruff that is reminiscent of Elizabethan gentry that is the truly monstrous. As with most of my current work there is a duplicity. Nothing is fixed. The paint plays with the resemblance of things so that the viewer is not required to read the picture but to remain open to it.
(1) Dillon, Brian. (2006) The revelation of erasure. [Online] Tate Etc. issue 8: Autumn 2006 Accessed March 29 2018 http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/revelation-erasure
(2) Wolfe, Bryan (2011) Between the Lines: Philip Guston and “Bad Painting” Wyeth Lectures in American Art: Recorded on October 19, 2011. National Gallery of Art Washington DC, USA.accessed 27.01.19 Published on 9 Oct 2014 available https://www.nga.gov/audio-video/video/wyeth-guston.html