The New Battle Dress
These paintings are an emotional response to the service the medical professions are doing during the Corona outbreak. The mask is the new battle dress. Usually associated with impersonality - it has began to mean something different. It not only protects us, it protects others and so has become a symbol of universal care. Factory made, custom made or home made from whatever is available in the house - it has developed a universal currency and meaning.
There is a marked contrast at the moment between the many people confined at home, and the few on the front lines endangering themselves working relentlessly to save lives.
This series was sparked off by an article on hospital staff in South Korea who, like many, found it necessary to protect their faces with plasters after daily shifts of ten hours wearing protective clothing. Other articles show health workers worldwide with their faces marked with temporary body scarifications. It is difficult not to be impacted by this display of raw humanity and service.
Like many cultures Tahitians strive to integrate the narrative of their past with the invasion of global popular culture. The Tiki has become a brand, a logo or an icon for Tahiti, in the same way as Mickey Mouse acts like a global ambassador for the pervasive soft power of Disney and the American dream. Its iconography transcends borders and continents.
TikiMiki represents this alliance between Primitive and popular culture.
EclectoMania is my Cadavre Exquis of unlikely pairings.
Cultural collisions, appropriations and hijacks. Icons, masks, pre and post industrial, tribalism and globalism. Spiritual fetish and sexual fetish.
EclectoMania is a confused homage to my influences both looking backwards to the past and forwards to the creation of new possible tribes.
Avatar is my fictive tribe - bodies transformed through paint, plants and found objects. The body is released from its habitual form - masked and liberated in theatrical guise.
Photographs are ready-made paintings.
I walk the streets with open eyes and a repository of ideas and themes at the back of my mind.
The chance element I seek when painting is naturally present in street photography.
We just have to turn a corner, get lost and keep our eyes open in order to find a mirror for our thoughts.
The themes I explore in my paintings are reflected in what catches my eye as I travel and walk streets.
I have the impression we don’t ‘take’ photographs, we make them. They are created by the internal narratives we have going on in our heads. We see something ‘out there’ because it corresponds with themes, narratives, conversations already in process, consciously or unconsciously.
the arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area.
© garthbowden 2020