This series of paintings, for the most part, consist of photo-real renditions of images appropriated from mass media sources. While the subject matter of each painting in the series has its own motivations and implications, it is the painted format that holds primary interest. By its slow nature, painting necessarily stands in opposition to mass media and digital media which are quick to produce, disseminate and consume. Fast paced visual stimulation is language of contemporary visual culture, through television, film, magazines and newspapers images are constantly disseminated and instantly replaced. In this context, painting becomes what theorist Theodor Adorno termed the 'social antithesis of society, not directly deducible from it.'1 It's production is slow, it is slow to circulate and it takes time to really look at. With this notion, each painting becomes a political act in opposition to the dominant mode of image culture. While continuously accelerating production and consumption of images reflects the capitalist model of infinite growth, painting can be a method by which it is possible to forego such a model and still engage with visual culture. For such an exploration of the political implications of painting, the subject matter of politicians seemed fitting.
Walter Benjamin suggests that through the media of photography and film, the aura (that is 'the here and now of the work of art - its unique existence in the place where it is at the moment.'2) is destroyed. Uniqueness is exchanged for a plethora of copies and any attribute of art that defies the rational is lost in its reproductions. While Benjamin praised this destruction of the aura, it can be suggested that a connection to the mystical, a non-rationalised aspect to art practice could be a further way for painting to stand opposed to the dominant system. It is with these ideas in mind that this series of work was painted, to question whether an image that is itself the product of mass media, one of an untold number of reproductions can be transformed. Can the painting process and the alterations by the artist that process entails reform the image so as to be unique once more? Can it imbue a sense of authenticity or authority? Is it possible to make a painting a political protest?
1.Adorno, Theodor W, Gretel Adorno, Rolf Tiedemann, and Robert Hullot-Kentor. 2002. Aesthetic Theory. London: Continuum, 8.
2.Benjamin, Walter, and J. A Underwood. 2008. The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction. London: Penguin, 5.