Many abstract artists have taken portraiture and figurative art to the unrecognisable, for example Pablo Picasso. In my abstract figurative and abstract nature paintings I have always attempted to combine the abstract with the semi-realistic. This in order to lend an anchor to the minimum of the known and then to invite the viewer to explore the subjective and psychological elements which actually represent a more accurate picture of the entity at several moments and over time, rather than a frozen “painted photograph” showing one moment in time. I often use myself and others as “models” for these abstract portraits and figurative works. Sometimes these “models” are used in a context which may be in relationship to how I see or experience them personally, but often there is actually no connection to the theme of the painting. All portraits are derived and developed from photographs I possess.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY ABSTRACT PORTRAITS AND FIGURATIVE PAINTINGS:
“Model”: Adam Donaldson Powell.
“X, Y and Z Generations … in Troubled Times”, is a series of three self-portraits, challenging the ways I see myself and the ways I wish others to see/experience me. Today’s challenges are many, and the successive generations barely have time for needed self-reflection in the face of the daily, fast-changing technological, climate and other challenges. In this painting I invite the viewer to face himself/herself in this world where faces and Art are often just another image.
I personally experience this painting as scary and uncomfortable. What I mean by saying that the painting is “scary” is that it confirms the dilemma that I face in today’s crazy World — an “unfinished symphony” that is essentially never to be totally understood.
There were never to be any figures totally painted because the pictures represent people/humanity/me in development and unraveling. The pic of me all dressed up in a fur coat is the “show guy” presenting himself to The World … (x-generation). The y-generation me with the green face is the creative and thinking me — absorbed in my own thoughts and ideas, but battling against those imposed upon me by living in The World. And the z-generation is me blocking out and hiding from The World, the mental bombardments of images, coined phrases, propaganda, advertisements, and the glaring and oppressive heatwaves and sunlight etc. That image is in the largest state of disintegration, the skin coloring depicting a body that is almost lifeless and the head partially covered by a veil of mourning. Of course, all of the images are (as is the Internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, mainstream media and alternative media) manipulations — leaving out ears (i.e. really hearing and listening) and other details in order “to guide” the viewer into focusing upon the sunglasses, clothing and accessories (headlines) instead of seeing the person (content) inside … and we are consequently in a continuous struggle for self-marketing and esteem vs. incompletion and dissatisfaction with systems of ethics and values that both constrain and embrace us.
The painting is “The Scream” that was never really expressed outwardly. And the minimalistic pastel-colored background is the general environment of denial — “everything is normal” — that acts as a sedative, more than inspiration.
“The XYZ-generations — in Troubled Times”
STRAIGHT TO HELL — MAPPLETHORPE IN TRIPTYCH.
I decided that it was best to depict Mapplethorpe in an Expressionist style – and almost like a charcoal and chalk painting. This because the style fits the era when he was growing up, but also to convey technique-wise the brutal simplicity of his art photography. His photographic portraits were perhaps designed to challenge the traditional “high art” status dominance of painted portraits. Mapplethorpe is often quoted as having said: “People don’t have time to wait for somebody to paint their portraits anymore. The money is in photography”. The wisdom of my choice of painting style is perhaps most apparent in the center panel, which deals with his internal perceptions of himself, and where the spectator’s eye goes straight to the majestic Cala Lily – The flower of Death – of which Mapplethorpe was so keen. The contrast provided by the single flower that is so calm and majestic is so powerful that the drama of the expressionist style is immediately reset — in a single glance. This artwork is rife with symbolism. The panels are meant to recall gay jerk-off magazines from the ’50s and ’60s, and thus the reference to “la main gauche” (the left hand). Mapplethorpe created magnificent classy/artistic porn: sexually provocative, statuesque bodybuilders (predominant in the gay mags of his era), celebrity porn (the masturbation of striving for fame in one’s own lifetime and beyond), sensual portraits of flowers etc.
“Straight to Hell — Mapplethorpe in triptych”, Adam Donaldson Powell, oil on canvas, 2018. Keywords: Mapplethorpe, tabloid (lurid, sensational) art, guns as penises, penises as guns, splattered blood, blood stains, sex, AIDS, crosses, Calla lily (flower of Death), sado-masochism, fetish, narcissism, pecs and nipples, the body as a living sculpture, perfection vs. the glory of the imperfect, Don Herron’s iconic Tubshot photo. Each panel measures 40 x 50 cm.
NB. Yes, I address Mapplethorpe’s obsession with Black men and their bodies / genitals by featuring Mapplethorpe himself in mirror image — as both Caucasian and Negroid. In this way his desire to completely embody and define ultimate personification of sexuality will finally be complete. The iconic Don Herron Tubshots photo of Mapplethorpe was chosen as my model because I actually met Mapplethorpe at his loft when Don and I delivered the photograph to him. This triptych is my “tribute” to both Don Herron and Robert Mapplethorpe
“Model”: Tor (in memoriam).
“Le jeune homme et la mort”, 65×90 cm., oil on canvas. This is my re-interpretation of Cocteau’s idea for the famous ballet. See my notes about this HERE!
“Model”: my nephew Austin.
“Portrait of Austin”, 100 x 100 cm., oil on canvas was made some years ago when he was an infant and further developed into my perception of him as a young teenager — based upon his physical characteristics and personality. It is my way of looking into the future based upon my perceptions of the present.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY ABSTRACT NATURE PAINTINGS:
“Y yo pienso aun en ti”, oil on canvas, 100×100 cm.
«Lone moose in sunset», oil on canvas, 65×90 cm., 2018.
“Tribute to Mars: The Great Source and Center”, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm.
“Nightfall – with Winter giving way to Spring”, 50×50 cm., 2017.
“Aged stone” (Oil on styrofoam).
“Eclipse”/craquelure, oil on canvas, 40×40 cm.
«Sunrise in early Spring», oil on canvas, 65×90 cm., 2018.
“Seascape I” (original of a series), oil on canvas, 120×120 cm.”
“Tribute to Yukio Mishima: Spring Snow”, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm.”
“Ghosts no. 2 — Climate change sucks the life out of Spring”, 15×15 cm., oil on canvas, 2018
“Ghosts no. 1 — Climate change sucks the life out of Spring”, 15×15 cm., oil on canvas, 2018
All works by Adam Donaldson Powell.
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