I have always painted the human figure, I wouldn’t call them portraits in the traditional sense as I’m not interested in displaying likeness, personality or mood, I leave that to the viewer to decide. I think our first language is visual, based on facial expression and recognition. We learn to recognise and interpret emotion this way before we learn verbal communication. We grow up learning to almost rely on this form of subconscious communication.
My aim then is to rewind and undo this process by removing the visual detail we rely upon. Combine this with my fascination with social dynamics and emotional turmoil often hidden behind grinning family snaps and you have a clue as to the rationale behind my work. The classic happy family on holiday frozen in time and our outward portrayal of domestic bliss is the focus of my investigations and visual interpretations. What does the viewer identify with and remember about their childhood then think again a little deeper.
I aim to develop a visual language through interpreting this “happy” subject matter by subverting through the use paint and of mark making. By stripping away detail from images I attempt to unearth the viewer’s own emotional response to childhood memories.
I source most of the photos from the Internet and although I have painted my own family I prefer the anonymity of Joe public that is so freely posted in the public domain. This strikes a more poignant chord for me that we are all party to posting personal photos on the Internet almost as proof or reinforcement of our happy lives or portrayal of our lives to others.
To make these paintings I sifted through dozens of random family snaps, boiling down to a selection of 3 or 4 which I then reinterpret digitally to create a stronger composition and reference point. What happens then with the application of paint on canvas is a different ball game completely! A spontaneous emotional response to the image can result in a revealing ( yet not revealing) ambiguity, an unresolved narrative perhaps that challenges the viewer to consider. I strive to tap into my unconscious whilst painting for a more honest and spontaneous response to the subject matter, this may involve stripping and scraping away at the surface, re working over and over possibly but unintentionally mocking the overly happy fits of lunacy that people put out to mask their reality.
See more paintings by Tim Fawcett