Thursday, May 06, 2010

(Un)Bound

Sometimes I work on an idea for a painting and nothing comes of it. If I'm unlucky, I might convince myself that the idea is strong enough to sustain a series of paintings. Then I'll work on it for a couple of months, developing it into scores of drawings or small acrylic on paper studies.
I can't tell you why an idea doesn't work out. Maybe it isn't enough of an idea to begin with. Maybe I take the wrong approach to it or I forget what interested me about it in the first place. Maybe I'm just easily bored. Whatever the reason, I end up with a pile of diary-like notes, reference photographs, sketches and highly finished drawings and paintings for which, to my mind, there is no further use. When I was younger and dumber, I used to burn them, partly driven by of an urgent desire to cover the traces of what I couldn't help but think of then as my inadequacies as an artist. Now I'm smarter. I consign the material to an archive box.
The idea for Bound first came to me shortly before I undertook the Sex Tourist installation for Metro Gallery at Art Melbourne '07. I imagined a handful of very large enamels each depicting a solitary woman of indeterminate race bound in some way within an otherwise empty space. The trappings of fetishized sex – blindfolds, gags, limbs tethered with intricate, kinbaku rope seizings and knots, heads and bodies sheathed within constrictive latex 'geek' outfits – were designed to draw the prurient eye into an ultimately discomforting metaphor for contemporary women still 'bound' by media-reinforced male expectations of them (and surprisingly ambivalent about notions of empowerment).
The trouble was, as the works grew in scale, they were never more communicative and convincing than the first simple outline drawings. These were composed with painstaking rigour using a fine, black felt-tipped draughting pen on a torn-off square (no more than 30cms x 30cms) of heavy, cold-pressed paper. They were intended only to define the areas of colour between black outlines in the final enamel paintings. Nevertheless, in their stark simplicity, the drawings expressed nearly everything there was to my idea. There was no need to enlarge and paint them.
I've held onto the drawings for a month or so, trying to figure out what more I might do with them. Now I've decided to sell a few at a time to those who follow my work online, many of whom can't afford my watercolours let alone my large enamels. Each will be priced at $A500, including taxes, post and packaging.
The first, pictured above, was offered via Twitter and Facebook, late last night. It sold within 12 hours. The next will be offered on Saturday evening.

2 comments:

N said...

If you are archiving in boxes I must mention to you the film "Stanley Kubrick's Boxes". I really enjoyed it.

sue beyer said...

I love this drawing :-)