Working in the mediums of oil paint on linen and etching, my portraits attempt to draw out the underlying psychology or sexuality of my subjects, engaging with storytelling and theatricality. My paintings exist between portraits and tableaux, aiming to capture a still frame of a narrative, shifting between naturalism and artifice. These take the form of my own contemporary mythologies, reworked from archetypal narratives in Greek mythology and folklore in which I try to find a balance between beauty and the grotesque. I refer to conventional old master compositions, principally of nobility or elevated mythological subjects, substituting trite historical symbolism with contemporary costume and fashion elements drawing the viewer into the present. Such anachronism might filter our impression of the past or emphasize the difference in dialogue between old and new.
The works are as much a depiction of my own imagined narrative as of the individuals’ personality. People surrounding me in everyday life inspire me; particularly those who do not appear to have a fixed identity, or push the boundaries of gender in their style choices. As such, my portraits deal with youth and a period of transience, with many sitters chosen from the LGBTQ+ community. It is the ambiguity between how we want to be perceived and how others perceive us that engages me, the struggle in deciding whether or not to conform to set ideas of appearance posed by society. I hope to highlight many ongoing questions of gender recognition and stereotyping, by creating portraits in which gender is either subtly defused, or embraced in full, upsetting fixed conventions.
Pink Is for Boys - 2017
Examining the shifting ways men present themselves, here I have depicted friends from the LGBTQ+ community, attempting to represent what it is to be male for a broad spectrum of sexualities that do not affix to this specific gender identity. The combination of contemporary fashion and historical costume reflects each sitter’s personal style, and evokes an androgyny akin to Renaissance costume in which men's and women’s clothing were less distinct. This trend for antiquated dress codes is perhaps a means of escapism to a romanticised era, equating to a desire for greater recognition of gender fluidity in our generation.
RSA: New Contemporaries, 2017, Installation View.