Artist based in North West England
'Maiko' was painted shortly after I returned from Japan and concerns Japanese perceptions of beauty. The Maiko wears expensive, elaborately decorated gaments and make up that is so heavy that it resembles a mask. With not a single part of her flesh is visible, she is an extreme example of a woman that has been shrouded by an aesthetic ideal and transformed from natural to fantastical by societies expectations of beauty.
Maiko was inspired by my 'shrinking shelters' sequence...the fading, phantom like quality found in the painting style of shrinking shelters relates well to how I feel about Maikos who are essentially required to undergo an identity shift in order to live their new lives as walking works of art. The paint seems to be layering up and whirling around as if by magic building up the protagonist and resurrecting her into her new life. I enjoyed doing this as it allowed me to refer to what I learned of Japanese iconography, for example, in Japan the cherry blossoms symbolise not only beauty but the flettingness of life thus the dainty cherry blossom flowers that seem to float around the maiko like fairy dust draw parallels with the Maiko and her own fate.
Original Oil on Canvas
170 cm x 60 cm
I have always been interested in the definition of beauty in relation to women, especially the ways in which the majority of women (including myself) transform themselves by spending vast amounts of time and money on clothing and cosmetics which subjugate the value of the natural for a more socially valued feminine ideal. The Shrinking Shelters series is about stripping away the material and finding beauty in self discovery and the sensuality inherently present in the female condition. The colours, fabrics and movement bring to mind a female tribal dance and recall how femininity and beauty is celebrated in a more natural and open way in other parts of the world where people are more concerned with the oneness of themselves with the natural world.
The series not only attempts to highlight the inherent sensuality found in women, but also evokes a sense of discomfort and even violence due to the expressionistic use of the palette knife that seems to cut and scratch into the other more smoothly painted areas of the canvas. This, along with the portrayal of contorted movement, suggests that the shift a modernised woman makes from ornate to natural, from cocooned to open and from sexualised to sensual is not comfortable or easy, it is a struggle by default because it goes against the grain of society...
I painted the series with inspiration from past painters such as Gustav Klimt but also classical painters who often painted women in beautiful, flowing garments. Unlike the highly polished finished pieces they created, mine are purposefully underdeveloped with her form bleeding out of the colour stained background as if her metamorphosis is happening before your eyes.
'Shrinking Shelters Series'
Original Oil on Canvas (3 Panels)
Individual panels 170 cm x 60 cm
Prints available, please contact me for details.
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