As of late, I have been exploring portraits of famous modern artists for many reasons. First and foremost, it has been creatively rewarding returning to a theme which was started last year, and not continued again until now. But, like a seed that was planted and left to its own devises to grow, it was a theme that was slower to bloom than other portrait themes that preceded it, and yet has proven to be as strong visually as the others. Secondly, making portraits of famous artists and incorporating aspects of their work into the art has been a return to my roots for me, because the individuals the images are based on were significant in my artistic development, and so, it has been healthy being reminded of them. The third and final reason is that these subjects have been a wonderful way to develop my own work, as I study not only portraiture of these iconic artists, but also working aspects of their aesthetic principles into the designs and my own work as well. The exploration has been like a warm return to Art History, as each project encourages me to study and revisit these innovative figures, who made their art movements so notable and significant.
PICASSO was a bridge project, allowing me to connect my iconic portrait art with a modern artists. DALI, my second project, took the idea a step further, incorporating a portrait of the man with a small piece of one of his most recognizable works (The Persistence of Memory) into the artwork. Recently, with EDVARD MUNCH, I pushed the aesthetics a little further, incorporating more colour than before, (and painting, rather than drawing the portrait) and combining his most famous image (The Scream) into the image, with him. And so, having covered modern art icons of Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism & Symbolism, I chose, with my newest project, to tackle the most famous artist of the Pop Art Movement: ANDY WARHOL.
**WARHOL Mixed Media 16x20 Inches
If studying PICASSO taught me about texture and composition, DALI made me fall in love with psychedelic imagery, and MUNCH connected emotion and the dark side of the psyche into visual art, WARHOL became important to me because of the way his commercial & graphic sensibilities were combined with his fine art ambitions in much the same way that mine increasingly have been.
I was much more of a draftsman when I was young. In love with comic books & graphic novels, I loved art that had a hard edged, graphic and clean look to it. While in art school, when I was exposed to various painters from different movements, (and started working with the medium myself) I found it difficult to not simply paint the way I draw and allow myself to get loose and free with the medium. WARHOL showed me, through his use of painting, printmaking, fascination with Pop Culture and celebrity, and his instinctively bold use of colour, how the two disciplines could be merged and used with effectively exciting results.
**PICASSO, DALI, & EDVARD MUNCH Mixed Media
Because WARHOL always wanted to be famous, (and as such, his work was often based on famous people) his work was often a commentary on the trap of celebrity as much as it was a celebration of it. His silkscreens were always nearly identical, but increasingly more distorted as the screens became clogged with ink, and the images themselves became less sharp. It was a powerful way to represent the way in which famous faces and advertising become so common in their reproduction and public exposure that their significance is diminished and value is often forgotten. Andy Warhol embodied his art as much as his art represented him, so much so, that when taken at face value either combined or separated, there was an aura surrounding the man and his work that can hardly be separated. I thought doing a simple portrait of the artist, framed in the ink splatter reminiscent of his silkscreen and paint technique would be a simple and effective way of capturing both the man and the artist.