Saturday, May 8, 2010

Masks and Armour

Hey guys! Thought I would post some of the paintings I've done on the themes of masks and armour since I've been here in Florence. I have become very interested in the influence that culture has on our own life experiences, and living in Italy this past year has given me a deeper understanding of its impact. In both cultures, people develop mechanisms for masking their anxiety, but they do it in very different ways. The cultural observations that I’ve made here have led me towards exploring the themes of personal armour and masks in my work. These themes personify the layers of protection that we build up around ourselves, in the hopes of protecting ourselves. However our personal armour and masks in fact only prevent us from truly experiencing and enjoying our lives. “Sometimes the only way to open a path to soul is the negative way-by noting ways in which we are unconsciously protecting ourselves from the sting of life’s intentions.” (from: Thomas Moore. SoulMates. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.)

I did several studies of myself in armour, after studying the Armour they had at the Bardini Museum, and my favorite is "Self-portrait in Armour IV." It's not the tightest one rendering-wise, but it's my favorite compositionally, so I plan to paint it up larger in the future.

Self-portrait in Armour I," oil on panel, 12" x 8"

Self-portrait in Armour II," oil on panel, 6" x 4"

"Self-portrait in Armour III," oil on canvas, 9" x 7"

"Self-portrait in Armour IV," oil on canvas, 6" x 4"

"Study for Who Am I? The Performance of Everyday Life"
6” x 4,” oil on canvas

This is a self-portrait of myself in holding two masks, a happy one and a sad one. It expresses the changeability in the way that we present ourselves in the world, and the influence that our surroundings have on the self that we show. I actually painted this one up really big as well (80" x 50," but sadly didn't get a good photo of it before shipping it back to Toronto, so I'll post one when I return home this summer!

"The Grownup," oil on panel, 12" x 8"

This subject interested me because I liked the humour in it. My friends here in Florence had come home one night with this strange, pseudo-batman mask, and when I saw it hanging on their wall, I had my friend put it on. He thought he was taking a hero pose, but I like that it reads as scared and protective. I liked the contrast between his defensive stance and the fierce mask, as well as the childlike quality of the mask. This painting embodies the idea that we bring childhood pain and defense mechanisms into our adult experiences, without even knowing that we're doing it.

I'll post more paintings soon!!