Following a long period of consideration and reflection, I have restarted work today on the Thai Masseur piece.
The main issue was to complete painting the face. On the one hand, I wanted for the portrait to be recognisable, on the other, I have struggled with solving a number of ethical issues regarding a possible reaction and rejection of my work by the model. I experienced this kind of a situation with one of the former pieces. Subsequently, this unpleasant episode had let to the destruction of my own work and several alterations to other experiments.
My new idea is inspired by deeply glazed and moody flemish paintings. I am especially inspired by Metsu and his self portrait. He positioned himself inside a window arch. This implies a composition within a composition. I am also using a double rectangular. My creative intention is to achieve a sense of ambiguity while drawing all attention to the centre – on the masseur. I want to rely on a visual suggestion of portraiture rather than a descriptive portrayal of a woman. The plan is to leave her facial features undefined, like a ghostly outline of what is really there.
GABRIEL METSU (LEIDEN 1629-AMSTERDAM 1667)
A Self-Portrait c.1655-8 Oil on panel | 37.7 x 31.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 405943
To give the surface more vibrancy, I used water solvable oil pastels. ‘Dancing’ with a crayon on top of the painting allows me to achieve a sense of mystery – secret light, which brings out parts of the skull and the jaw – all in the dusk of the space portrayed.
The next stage of the painting process will be to glaze the overall piece with a variety of transparent layers of an acrylic medium, perhaps combined with some watered down PVA glue. This is to prepare the surface for the overprinting stage using the silk screen technique and enhance a feeling of unity between the different formal elements and parts of the composition.
I have already prepared a new pattern based on decorative elements, which I have isolated from the interior of the massage salon. I will use this design to create a random over-image. This, in turn, will have a dual function. The first is to help to engage the centre in the overall painterly illusion. The second aim is to increase the amount of detail and enhance holistic and expressive qualities of my piece.
At this stage, I am considering using a range of gold and crimson tones. This initial plan might be subsequently altered in favour of a more spontaneous and instinctive decisions and reflections in action.
I am enclosing photographs of the final stages of work today and a close up of the ‘New Face’