I’ve been working on ideas for a new series of paintings for a while now, and it has got me thinking about why I paint the subjects that I do, and what are the real themes and ideas that I am trying to explore. Why do I paint naked bodies and not flowers, boats or trees?
What springs to mind when you think “naked”? Exposed?.., self-conscious?.., vulnerable? These are what I feel when I imagine myself naked. Another person might say liberated or sexy. I know from the experience of showing my paintings over the years that people’s perception of nudity varies wildly. A large number of people, for instance, are simply unable to dissociate nudity from sexuality.
“Honesty”. If you strip a subject of all its decoration and embellishments, isolate it from its surroundings and props, are you left with the true essence of that subject? Does a painting of a person thus exposed actually say any more about their true character? Is it a more honest depiction than if they were in their chosen attire and makeup?
“Relationships”. In any depiction of a person who posed in front of an artist, there are at work dynamic relationships between the artist, the model and the viewer. Just as the viewer will bring along their own preconceptions of the artist and the subject, so the artist will, during the sitting, form their own opinion of the model’s personality. Subsequently, however they try to honestly describe what they see, the artist’s depiction will always be tainted by their own views. This is what distinguishes a painting from a photo.
“Identity”. Who am I? What am I? These are questions artists and philosophers have been asking through the ages. Although it seems impossible to ever give a truly honest account of the world around us, still they strive to achieve it. I wonder if, when a model poses, if I know nothing about the model, would I be better able to give an honest description of them? Or would the work be somehow diminished if I didn’t know who they were or what they do? I think it’s worth a go. Anyone interested in posing nude for this new series is welcome to get in touch. False names encouraged 🙂
Well, this years open studio event at Leegate House has been and gone. Many thanks to those that made the journey to this little corner of southeast London. Thankfully the heatwave abated, just for the day, and we didn’t all melt in our studios.
These open studios events are a prerequisite for studio providers to maintain their charitable status – to demonstrate they’re “engaging with the community”. In my experience, many studio providers will only make a token effort, and most artists will see it as an inconvenience.
I’m pleased to say that Bow Arts treated this event with a lot more enthusiasm than some other studio providers I’ve been involved with; as did most of the artists here in Leegate House – it was the most enjoyable open studio that I’ve taken part in. Some of the nicest conversations I had were with local people who’d seen a flyer in the local Sainsburys, and thought “I must go along to that”. I spend most of my time locked away alone in this room on the fifth floor. It’s actually quite nice opening the doors to the public once a year.
I had some difficulty with the above painting. A few years ago I had a model regularly do life-modelling for me. She posed for me on numerous occasions over many months. During these sittings, we spoke about anything and everything…, but I never once mentioned the scars on her arms. I often wondered about them, but just thought it inappropriate to talk about them. And I never showed them in my paintings.
I recently read “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara. In this book, the main character spends most of his life self-harming, and it was interesting to see how those around him, including his closest friends, although aware of what he did, never spoke about it. Is this the norm?
So I revisited my reference photos and drawings from our various sittings, and thought that this time I would show her scars. I worried about whether it was appropriate to make them the subject of the portrait. But I painted them. And now I’m showing them.
I’ll be taking part in this show – Perspectives – at Espacio Gallery, London. It’s my first time showing work at this space. It’s an artist run gallery, and one condition of participating in group shows is taking a turn invigilating. So I shall be there on Wednesday 9th May between 1-7pm.
I will be taking part in the Juxtaposition show at Elizabeth James Gallery, from the 10th until the 23rd April. I will be showing a couple of my older Relationships Series paintings, as I think they fit the theme quite well.
Very pleased to learn that my application to join ArtCan has been successful. Looking forward to working with them, meeting the other members and finding out about what they have planned for the coming year.
ArtCan is a non-profit arts organisation that supports artists through profile raising activities and exhibitions, an open network of ‘likeminded’ peers, and practical support structures.
I’ve given my website a much needed facelift. I have been working on it for weeks now, testing it out on another domain. The transfer over to dalessandri.co.uk seemed to go smoothly enough. I was sure I had taken every precaution, and tested everything out. And then I realised that the photos from all my blog entries had disappeared!!!
So I’ve spent the last few evenings going through my blog entries, trying to find copies of the missing photos. Quite a few posts have had to be deleted, because I just can’t find any suitable photos. And so far I’ve only checked about a third of the posts!
Oh well, I quite like the look of my new site, so hopefully it won’t need a revamp for a couple of years.