My work aims to tackle the very meaning of the word evil and its place among st society. Following a heavy influence from Luc Tuymans’ Gaskamer I look to normalise evil through the practice of painting so much so that the viewer can relate to it on a human level. Throughout history, evilness has been associated with the cruelest among us and the intention of my work is to confront the audience with the idea that we are all capable of evil acts, therefore it can only be seen as a common human trait. This sense of the work antagonising the viewer is highlighted with the simplistic, banner-like display which has been deliberately set up to provoke a feeling of realisation and perhaps unease.
The pieces are produced from carefully chosen photographs of scenes that can be considered classically evil. They depict periods of time in which evilness has thrived amongst the masses. Ranging from the rise of the Nazi regime right to the current upsurge of ISIS, as well as a scene of soldiers from the Serbo-Croatian War. They are painted in such a way that the evil is absent. This is done through a playful painterly style which is supposed to make these wicked figures seem somewhat normal.
This was the first set of paintings I done in which I tried to normalise the evil. At this point I chose to use subject matter that was obviously evil, in this case it was a gangster scene. This was an important painting in terms of depicting evilness within figurative scene.
During a tutorial early in the year I was advised to look at evilness in the current time as the ISIS beheadings were constantly in the news. This lead me to do a lot of research and do a couple of painted studies of events over there, such as the hostage scene. This interest in ISIS ultimately lead to one of my degree show main pieces.
This smaller study of my Nazi youth image was a big turning point as at this point I had done a lot of A1 paintings but I was not happy with them. This was the first piece that I was very happy with, which led onto my first final degree show piece and to me working on a much larger scale.
This came at a point when I had finished my first main piece and I was stuck on what I was going to do next. I was advised to look again at current affairs which led me to the attacks in Paris. Here I was trying to make the pieces more painterly in style and I was using a more childlike approach. This is turn was something that I incorporated into my two final degree show main pieces.
This painting is of a Nazi propaganda piece. This interest in propaganda inspired where I am right now because for my degree show pieces are displayed in a banner-like fashion. I wanted them to be portrayed in a way that would resemble a propaganda poster.
Luc Tuymans’ Gaskamer was the painting that influenced my project as I was fascinated at how Tuymans was able to normalise such a evil scene. This was something I wanted to achieve in my work but not in the exact way that Tuymans. I was interested in figures and scenes rather than environments.
This was an article that I read for my dissertation research, it ultimately asked the question whether or not evilness is a human trait and not something that only the cruelest among has have deep within. It also gave me the subject matter for my first main piece as the front cover of the article showed a scene from a Nazi Youth Rally.
This trip came just before I painted my first main piece of the Nazi youth. This was the perfect time as this Kiefer exhibition showed work that inspired me in terms of his use of muddy colours and painting very large scale. As well as this we shared similar themes as he worked with the idea of evilness as well. I feel this was the exhibition that inspired me to work on a larger scale and to keep using paper.
This research into evilness in the art of the past was done in order to gain a greater knowledge of how this portrayal has evolved through the ages. One painting in particular inspired me and this was Goya’s The Third of May 1808. This was because it symbolised the classic depiction of evil and this was that one or one battle between the two forces. This influenced my work as I was always reminded not to go down this route, as I wanted the viewer to experience a sense of realisation when observing my work.
The Marlene Dumas exhibition at the Tate was probably the best show I have been to this year. She is known for her painterly style and this was something I wanted to incorporate more into my work. She also explored evilness with her work so this was very relevant to my studio practice.
This is the setup for my final degree show. I felt it was necessary to have the Nazi image on it own as it was done before and is the most colourful of the three. Also it is quite interesting that the Nazi Youth figures are looking over at the other paintings with a look of devotion. As you can see here the work is displayed in a simplistic, banner-like way which resembles a propaganda poster. This is what I wanted to achieve.
I am also planning to get business cards for the degree show in order to advertise myself.
Although I have finished all my main piece I still have a difficult task ahead to take them off the wall as they are firmly gum taped to it. For this I came equipped with a scalpel, a metre stick and a set square. I had to make sure they were straight and the same size which won’t be an easy task.
This is the finished piece. This is probably the piece that I am most happy with in regards to the final outcome. I feel the diluted while oil paint works well to suggest the ignorance of the figures in the piece. As well as forcing the audience to focus in on the figures.
This day was the last studio day of the course we were ask to empty the studio. I am planning to take my paintings off the wall on the weekend as I will have more space to do so. Overall I am happy with the work.
Here is the finished piece and as you can see I have reapplied the black paint to the heads of the hooded figures. As well as this I have layers the army material with a very diluted layer of dark oil paint in order to make the colours less intense. I feel this has worked well.