A dive into the Archives
|Selfportrait (Both SOLD) 2009|
45 x 60 cm each
Acrylic on Canvas board
This was the first serious self portrait I ever attempted. I knew I would focus on two aspects, so I split it into two paintings, for them to still be sellable; I didn't just want one large Vanitas painting with assorted fruits, as I wanted to highlight the sombre next to the vibrant.
It was also my first attempt at a Vanitas painting, and the first time I zoomed in on fruit in this way, both of which I continued doing since.
Concept wise it came down to me wanting to change my general attitude towards life; I wanted to teach myself to live in the now, as I had a tendency to look forward to things without appreciating what I actually had.
I'd wanted a meaningful relationship for so long, and when I got it, I went straight into looking forward to getting engaged and married, without stopping to enjoy what we had. I finally figured out what I needed to do with my life, but I was unhappy with how slow it was taking place, I wanted galleries and exhibitions and praise now.
So you can see how wonderfully the Vanitas concept worked with that: its all about living a fruitful life, as death is imminent, which is why there is always a burnt out lamp, or a tiny stub of a candle, life is about to burn out. I had to be true to that kind of symbolism, and other imagery like wilted flowers, all focusing on decay.
The ring lying on the broken up (well used?) Bible is a promise ring my them boyfriend gave me, we couldn't afford engagement rings at that stage. The seven of diamonds card ties in there, 7 being symbolic in Christianity of a work being completed or perfected (it doesn't translate very well, the Afrikaans word I'm thinking of is 'volmaak' or 'volbring')
I've always loved candles, this one wasn't quite burnt out, it wasn't ready to die - this wasn't about death after all, only change.
The skull is a cast of a human skull, borrowed from our local teaching hospital's museum - for ethical reasons not an actual human skull - which a friend who works there sourced for me, and started out a relationship of borrowing animal skulls from the museum, which only fed my appetite for learning about anatomy. The walk-through my friend and I did in the museum was terribly interesting, macabre but beautiful.
The fruit still life needs less explanation. I just wanted decadence, but in a healthy way, bright juicy, alive. Especially in juxtaposition with the desaturated, dark Vanitas. The dark background I think helps to relate to the Vanitas, even though it's a much warmer tone.
You can tell the age of the painting in the outlines, I think I stopped outlining in 2010, when I finally realised it didn't give my work a contemporary edge, it just took away from it. That, and the poor photo quality and terribly crop, my apologies!
And there you have it. My sister-in-law bought the fruits, the Vanitas sold at the gallery, and I can look back fondly on how far I've come, in paintings and attitudes. And in the realisation that everything I yearned for then, I now have.