Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Expressing Masculinity: "World Trade"

I started this painting with some discarded high-density cardboard, originally used at a shipping company to transport heavy objects. Instead of the standard 24 x 18"--which I had been working with for a while-- I wanted to expand to a larger scale, so I cut the cardboard to 36" x 24".

This new size complimented my desire for unbounded experimentation. I began with the intention of expressing masculinity. First, high water-content splashes of paint, using a foam brush to smooth out various portions while leaving others raw and untouched. Alternating between phases of drying and reapplying, I created a number of effects which are synonymous with the marbling effect achieved in other pieces. But, as I worked with varying colors and strokes, some interesting iconographic forms seemed to appear:

After some work with the images, a conversation started to develop around cultural constructs and how they can inform answers to questions on identity: What does it mean to be masculine? What role does this play in society? 

This painting started with these questions, yet the process of its development was not bounded by them. This is to say, that though these questions were present in the work's inception, just as the work changed drastically over time so too did its meaning. 

I set the painting aside for a while, moving onto other artistic endeavors. This lead to some other interesting works, but this painting felt so unfinished... It was around this time that I went to Sarasota for the Halloween Palm Court Party.

I can't stress how much of an impact that night had on me, but there was a clear impact on my work afterwords:

I continued to explore the strong color contrasts, expanding specifically on the relationship between color and depth. This is perhaps most apparent in the Tree/Smoke portions which are intended to resemble on another. Eventually I darkened the smoke pattern, receding it to the background, and then allowed the foreground to bloom with orange blossoms. Finally, I added the displaced stars of the American flag in the bottom right corner in an attempt at easing the movement of the eye across the work:

"World Trade" 36" x 24" x 1.5"
Gouache, acrylic, ink, and high voltage electricity
on recycled cardboard (corrugated fiberboard)

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