Thursday, August 27, 2009
I Is Another
As a kid, my earliest paintings scared me. I destroyed most of them without showing anyone. They were dark, angry and self-negating. I never signed them.In my late teens, my work was pretty and cute. It came across as emotionally vacant. There was still a lot of anger in it but it lay hidden beneath the brittle, candy-coloured surfaces. I signed them with a symbol, a fused HD, like a cattle brand, painted in an obscure position. I didn't like the way it looked but I used it anyway. I told people it was a response to my early readings on semiotics. But that was bullshit. I used it because it obscured my identity. It was something of an in-joke among my family that the first person I should show my art to was a psychiatrist. I worried that everybody would be able to see who I really was through my work – or who I wasn't. I wanted to remain hidden from view.A couple of years later, I began branding my work as HAZED. My father suggested that if I didn't want to sign by hand, I should use a large, custom-made, rubber stamp instead. I liked this impersonal, almost industrial attitude to works that, even then, I preferred to talk about as product rather than as art.A gallerist suggested I stamp my work with DOONEY. Using my name as a brand for an art object appealed to me and meshed with my increasing desire to exert what I thought of as a Karl Lagerfeld-like level of control over every aspect of my art and self. I even signed my studies on paper in neat block letters practised during architectural drafting classes. My own hand betrayed little trace of me. I still stamp my enamel paintings with DOONEY, usually at the side of the timber frame. It fits with my enduring desire for control and with the slick, couture-like appeal of the 'productised' works themselves. In contrast, I sign my name in full, in a sweeping cursive script, on my much more unruly, self-expressive drawings and watercolours. To these, I've also begun adding other words – from poems written by others to fragments of my own diaries and letters – in the same handwriting. I sometimes erase or blur these words but only so they become a background texture.I don't want to hide myself anymore.