In ‘Bad Copies’, I look back to the past for inspiration - creating my own versions of iconic paintings. I call them ‘bad copies’ because as far as accurate copies go, they are pretty bad.
Instead, I use the original paintings as departure points to explore my own interests - stealing certain elements and abandoning others.
Everyone knows the Mona Lisa even though few people have actually seen the original. The experience of seeing the painting at the Louvre is quite disappointing. It’s small - and you can’t get very close. A bit like a religious relic.I prefer the digital version. You can get in really close and see all the cracks and soft blending of colours. The Mona Lisa is so iconic that it can be deconstructed and abstracted, and something of the original spirit will still be there. It will still register as the ‘Mona Lisa’.
I can do an expressionist ‘De Kooning’ painting of the Mona Lisa, or a quaint Sunday painter version, or even quite a faithful version but then change some random details. This looseness is my way of saying - these are not the originals - but they refer to the originals.
It’s refreshing looking back at the history of great painting - there is a lot to learn when you see beyond the exotic clothes and strange compositions. You see that human nature hasn’t changed much, but the way things are represented has.
Portraiture and the depiction of the naked body has been going on for thousands of years in some shape or form. Tastes change from culture and era. What was once seen as obscene might now be seen as romantic. The Romans had no issues with depicting sexuality, whereas more recently you had to disguise nude figures as gods and goddesses in order to justify painting them.
My last series A Hunger for Intimacy was inspired by contemporary erotic source material. Here I look back to paintings of the past to expand my vocabulary and better understand my place in this tradition.
These may be bad copies, but I think they are quite good paintings!