Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is Representation?

"Divine Favor" Elizabeth McGhee 2009. oil on panel


Some paintings are about exploring technique: analyzing the relationship between paint, canvas, and the exterior world. That is something that needs to be explored and elaborated on, but is not my focus.


My paintings are about asking "what is representation?"


In casual lingo, "representational painting" is described as realistic and not abstract. However, the dictionary's definition of representational also describes: "the signs that stand in for and take the place of something else."


Symbolism is at the very root of whatever the artist represents on the canvas whether he is using realism or abstraction. Symbols are manipulated in order for us to communicate and describe the world. As children we exploited these symbols to the fullest- we PLAYED. In play, a cardboard box is not just a cardboard box, it can be a fort. In play a toy dragon is not merely a molded bit of plastic, for all intensive purposes it is a living breathing myth brought to life by imagination.


In my paintings I want to set up scenes that are intended to remind the viewer of when any object could be anything. To light that dormant inner spark of creativity that lets the viewer bring my paintings to life on their own. That is why I utilize toys and other familiar objects that the viewer might have played with as a child, in order to make the connection easier.


Think René Magritte: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." Instead of just pointing out that the painting itself is just a symbol, I am elaborating on that idea and trying to give the viewer a connection with their own creativity.


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