Sometimes you paint something that is difficult for the viewer to understand because of the subject matter.. even though they like the style, or the image , when they find out the truth behind it, a lot of other factors come into play, mostly for the wrong reasons, like, “now i know what it is about, I do not feel comfortable with this in my home” or (more likely) “now i know what this is about, i really did not like it in the first place”
This year I painted two such pieces, “Looking for OTO” and “Bird”
Looking for OTO, is about finding your way to the top of a system, that you feel comfortable in, for example, the main image is of a man in the U.S, in state prisons there, they routinely photograph prisoners for tattoos, because the tattoo system within the gang culture, marks the history of what they have done, be it, murder, smuggling contraband into the prison, or if they are a snitch etc.
What fascinates me about this, is the world that involves honour, and a system of Hierarchy.
When the photos are taken, the prisoner knows this will be on his record for the above offences, but also knows that he is in a network that will support him until he falls out of line.. this parallels, our society outside.
Now the main theme with this, now i have explained, is about where we want to be in a certain amount of time or before we die.. be it, nice job.. nice house, family etc, these Inmates have a different code, a different strata of society, which in turn we can comment about or would do unless we was in that situation. But there is one common thread, we all rejoice at success! we all rejoice that we have come through a bad period in our lives, and we all rejoice that things could have been a hell of a lot worse. This painting is about one man being proud of what he has achieved.. same feelings as we get, when we do the same, because we all are looking for something to fit in, belong, and ultimately feel at home. Image below:
Looking for OTO 2011, Acrylic, Photocopy, Marker, Emulsion on canvas 16 x 20 inches.
Bird is about Derek Bird, which was in the news for shooting and going on a rampage, in Northern England. This is not a homage, or indeed glorifying any of the tragic actions that took place.
What intrigued me , was the moment that a “normal” man, snapped, and basically had a nervous breakdown.. and the results obviously vary .. from someone smashing up their home in despair, or turn to alcohol or drugs, or just sit and cry for months on end.. but the main thing is the same, they had a nervous breakdown.
This painting is not a homage to him.. but more a statement on how society and circumstance can come from behind you, without knowing, and your former self has died way before the latter did. Respect and love goes out to all the families and other people involved in this tragic event. Image below:
to read more there is a wiki page: