Gwen Hardie: 'The surface of the human body is an amazing membrane. It bears witness to the person living inside; an independent individual and yet closer inspection of the skin reveals that the body is made up of moving elements that are universal and part of the greater natural world.
The question of how to represent the human body in art and painting is central to my work. Using rigorous oil-painting techniques that recall classical painting, I apply a conceptual focus to the representation of the figure. Rather than creating a likeness of a particular person or depicting a narrative between characters, the illusion I present of the figure is simply a small portion of skin, magnified and extending beyond the edges of the picture frame. I choose to paint from life under natural light so that I can record the subtle blends of cool and warm hues that sunlight reveals on surfaces and depths.
The paintings attempt to witness life as it is passing, neutral, simply alive. I subvert the concept of the body as a solid form by describing the translucent quality of skin, revealing networks of veins under surface details which resemble the elements of water, air and earth. This concept of dematerialization translates into painting terms, by blending colours and tones in such a way as to create an illusion of ambiguous depths of field, so that the eye cannot hold an image as static for any length of time. Transparent earth colours are blended together and juxtaposed with opaque and cool colours within a limited palette to create an optical vibration, which makes the skin appear luminous and alive.'
Where to see this painting?
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
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