Alienation (2020), 90 x 90cm, acrylic on board
Obstruction given by Sarah Feinmann: To make a large scale drawing using handmade drawing tools. You can either work on one large piece or work in sections to make a larger piece
Alienation was the basis for my work for the instagram exhibition with the Castlefield Gallery, bOlder Group. The instagram exhibition was derived from the film The 5 Obstructions 2003 by Lars Von Trier and Jorgen Leth in which Leth is tasked to remake his 1967 short film The Perfect Human five times, each time with a different obstruction from Von Trier.
Alienation depicts human figures painted in a faceless, visceral, genderless, unresolved way. They convey a range of emotions: isolation, fear, confusion, vulnerability, loss. The landscape is one of darkness, industrialised urbanity. The artwork was produced during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown, suggesting the effect lockdown was having on people. Alienation was a fitting start and end to 2020, as it related to Covid and became part of the first and last exhibition of the pandemic year with the bOlder artists.
It was inspiring to make such large scale drawings large enough for the full height gallery wall. In order to create artwork so large I discounted paper (too fragile), canvas (too expensive), and eventually chose lengths of black blackout fabric, which were durable and could be scrunched and rolled up. I experimented with different types of paint for the fabric which would adhere and not crack, after some experimentation, acrylic seemed the ideal option. As the drawings were so large and studio space was not available during lockdown I decided initially to work outside. This was an obstruction in itself as my work was dependent on sunny days to dry the paint and protective paint coating and light winds to stop the fabric blowing away. The handmade tools used were wads of bubble wrap, teasels, sticks, sponges, rags, hands, ruler edges, plastic pots. The artworks were all named according to an everyday action undertaken by a ‘Perfect Human’ .The large size of the artworks draws us into the familiarity, but also perplexes us by the unusual, affecting our visceral senses and emotions.
The idea about the perfect human questions whether perfection exists, what are the attributes, physical, emotional, social …How did the perfect human react to isolation, stress and the loss of liberty?
(Dedicated to Harry Finch 1932-2020).