My current practice utilizes medieval de-humanization artistic theory and convention, and focuses on how this notion can establish a foothold in contemporary art. My work investigates the best methods to convey such de-humanization, concentrating, in particular, on the qualities of oil paint and its effectiveness as a medium in triggering and mobilizing change in societal attitudes. I aim to raise questions about social ostracism, encourage conversations about stigma, and address such topics as hypocrisy and abuse of institutional power.
Gravitating from working in the subject of prejudice, especially racism and homophobia (with a special interest in transphobia), my current practice concentrates on the hypocrisy of the Church and the misconduct of its priests. Following recent revelations about historical child sex abuse by the clergy, from all corners of the world, I came to the conclusion that the duty to address such issues falls hardest upon the artist, for they capture attention and conjure up emotion, both of which are essential in creating change.
The inspiration for my work has come via medieval chronicles, manuscripts and psalters, where different races are portrayed with monstrous and grotesque features, and I have turned this approach on to the clergy who have fallen short of the ideals they purport to hold dear. I became fascinated with the way that medieval artists, craftsman and chroniclers used paint as a tool to expose the immorality of races whose religion was other than Christian, and people whose sexuality was other than heterosexual. In my work, I often reverse the medieval de-humanization process, distorting the faces, or entire bodies, of the perpetrators of heinous crimes.
I have also taken inspiration and draw parallels with artists working in different media, such as Michael Ray Charles and Santiago Sierra, alongside filmmakers such as Carl Dreyer and Basil Dearden, all of whom have used their work to trigger discussions and to expose the corruption present in the institutions which define our society.
I believe that I have tapped into a rich vein of enquiry and will continue to explore the utility of paint when investigating how best to portray the perpetrators of abuse, using a medieval underpinning to secure visual statements in a contemporary art setting.
40.5 cm x 30.5 cm
Oil on Canvas