Hotel / Pizza / Text

I rarely use text in my paintings, but it’s something I may get into. With resistance a prevalent theme, I’ve been considering how to make my portraits more overtly political. Text is probably the easiest way to get a point across.

Last summer, I was asked to paint actress and singer Francoise Hardy, so I found a photo I found of her outside the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. I tend to use photos as starting points, and not necessarily to paint a likeness. This wasn’t a commission, so I felt free to paint the subject the way I normally do. Without slavishly representing her features.

I noticed that putting the subject in front of a hotel sign suggested certain things about the women I painted. I wasn’t convinced that everyone would know it was the Chelsea Hotel where artists, musicians and other creative types lived and congregated, so I changed the iconic hotel sign to a pizza sign — and suddenly it felt like the subject had moved from the hotel to the pizza parlor. Or perhaps there were different women outside both locations.

Because I post my work immediately after I paint it, there is a kind of sequential element built into it. I noticed that added text suggested a possible narrative — at least it did to me.

I’d already painted a few baboons without text when I decided to paint one with the pizza sign. The baboon reminded me of King Kong — perhaps because the Chelsea Hotel sign placed the action in New York. Now, instead of being concerned that the women might be regarded as sex workers, I was worried King Kong was going to grab one of them and carry her up the Empire State Building.

I painted the last one in the series to indicate that the baboon did not harm the subject(s). I’m pretty sure I was the only person caught up in my halting narrative, but adding text to my otherwise language-free portraits was a surprisingly power experience.

no-hat-104-800-ed

“No Hat #104” SOLD

no-hat-105-800

“No Hat #105”

no-hat-106-800

“No Hat #106”

no-hat-107-800

“No Hat #107”

baboon-3-800-new

“Baboon #3” SOLD

no-hat-109-800

“No Hat #109”

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: