Do the marks left behind by the painter that disrupt both the painting surface and distort the figure convey meaning and emotion to the viewer? How can one qualitatively categorize distortions so that their emotional impact on the viewer can be quantified?
Manipulating the paint surface can disfigure a face or distort the rendering of a body. I believe viewing these disruptions of the human form cause a reaction in the viewer, perhaps causing discomfort but also curiosity and intrigue. It asks the viewer to pause and to contemplate. And this contemplation, this pause, leaves room for the viewer to open themselves to considering the emotions of the creator of the piece. In essence, it plants the seed for an empathetic connection between the experience of the artist and the experience of the spectator.
In my painting practice, I aim to conceptualize and work within a theoretical framework that prioritizes revealing the painting process to the viewer in the finished work.
Distortions alter not only the image but they can also alter the paint surface, allowing the inference of the order in which marks were made. Viewed through this lens, a painting has multiple layers of meaning; the traditional interpretation of the two dimensional image and a record of the artist's presence and process recorded in the surface of the paint. This second layer can be interpreted as a sort of fossil record, a permanent imprint of the artist's presence, her footsteps in the sand; archeological clues that tell the story of the painting's birth and evolution captured in the marks left behind and preserved in the dried paint.
Is it helpful to develop and work within a framework that considers the creation of a painting as a story where the artefacts of the artist's process inform and communicate to the viewer? Does working within this framework influence the painter's choices and process? Does it provide context that fosters the artist’s ability to reveal the evolution of a painting? The very nature of painting is a process. Would making this process more explicitly evident create a more profound connection between painter and viewer via the medium of the painting? I believe that seeing evidence of the hand of the creator encourages the viewer to consider questions about who the artist was, why they created this artwork, and to consider it's purpose more thoughtfully.
Erica Hyatt is a visual artist and researcher based in the Netherlands.