I am an Irish surrealist-realism painter and experimental video artist. Both my mediums of paint and film influence each other equally. Avant-garde film is a major influence on my painting work, each premeditated brushstroke on canvas relaying its own particular message through ambiguous symbolism, just as I would construct the mise en scène for filmic sequence.
My painting practice focuses on bridging the gap of modernism to fuse old with new, recalling technical command aspects of the Old Masters but with a distinctly contemporary unease. Each work is highly staged and ambiguous, charged with psychological tension. I use found images or my own photographic sources, in which I arrange the model, props, lighting and composition so that they are painting ready, adding a cinematic dimension to the work.
When I paint, I’m interested in telling stories of experiences that are both personal and universal. I don’t want my figures to be of specific individuals, they’re archetypes, so I blur or erase their faces or they look away. They become general characters, like figurative insights into a human condition. I want to generate a direct emotional connection with my audience by illuminating the collective feelings that dwell in every psyche, sharing my deeply personal experiences and the emotions that encapsulate them, emotions that are simultaneously universal. By taking something that at first seems everyday and familiar, but then to deconstruct it like a scene from an alternate universe where alien rules apply, the subject matter’s unconventional compositions and cryptic narrative enable the audience to derive their own personal meaning from the work. I’m constantly aware of the possible effect on the viewer throughout the process of creation, the psychological impact of my work is what’s most important to me.
This way of constructing a scene is also how I work in the medium of film. I prompt it to acts as a visual diary, projecting intimate parcels of self-reflection into details of current social concern, working perceptively to construct surreal worlds as intuitive responses to our world’s personality. Through film I explore forms of interpretation through manipulations of structure and reminiscent details, observing and illuminating the obscured ‘familiar,’ turning the everyday into the unexpected.
Historically, I have been influenced by performance artists of the 70s such as Valie Export, Vito Acconci, Chantal Akermann and Maya Deren. Protagonists of extraordinary cinema Andrei Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr and Michelangelo Antonioni have provided significant inspiration for my film work, whereas painters such as Mircea Suciu, Ruprecht Von Kaufamnn, Edward Hopper and Adrien Ghenie have influenced my painting practice.