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.

6 comments:

ArneA said...

An excellent post telling not only me but the whole art community more about your works. I have tried to read the background text and have seen a link to the various themes within you have gathered your works.
btw: I have nominated you to David´s Post of the Day

mountain.mama said...

I admire your audacity, don't hide.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever wish you had never trashed your earlier paintings?

Me

artstamers said...

Brilliant post,i often feel like i have to hide my artwork and thoughts away in a book i carry around with me,also like your good self i destroyed a manier art because just one person made a nasty and hurtful comment.When i read postings like yours,i do fill with admiration.A brilliant blog by the way.x

David said...

Brutally honest depiction of an artists life and self-image. Thanks for sharing your development both artistically and emotionally.

Aaron B. Brown said...

I like the name Dooney, I like how it sounds and how it looks in print, I'd never heard it before. Also the name Hazel, which is a rather old-fashioned name here in the states, you don't meet many Hazels under 50 here these days.

The combination of these two names together as I glance at them each time I visit your blog or saw you on twitter, seems to have had a cumulative effect upon me. I suppose it has to do with what you write in concert with your art but something about the name itself, Hazel Dooney, captured my attention the first time I read it. I can't quite put my finger on it, I'd never heard of you before someone I follow on twitter mentioned you, but I think it was the name that initially propelled me to click on the link to discover your work and blog.

I'm visual by nature, but words through verbalization and sound have always been my primary mode of communication and understanding. So while I find your artwork increasingly interesting the more I see of it, its you Hazel, the person, that I find particularly fascinating. I appreciate your decision to reveal yourself so fully here in your blog, it's the kind of writing that I prize most highly, specifically when it is executed with revelations of personal truths and genuine honesty. I find it refreshing even cleansing in a world where so many people spend so much time hiding and pretending.

I must admit that initially I was somewhat disturbed by what I found here and in your work, even a bit annoyed with you, though I can't explain why, I don't find anything you've written or created with your images particularly objectionable or controversial, perhaps it touches upon things from my own past I don't know, it was just this mix of emotions that continued to nag at me after I visited Self Vs. Self the first few times. I suppose it was this combination of conflicting impressions and feelings that kept me coming back for more and I'm glad I did, and I'm glad you're not hiding anymore.