Human Shield / Human Shield II

MOA Gallery, Paju, Korea / Byuk Kang Gallery, Kaywon High School of Arts, Seoul, Korea, July 2004

Human Shield c. 1995–2001
Graphite, chinagraph, pastel and acrylic
1360 × 620 mm

The drawings in this exhibition present my continuing preoccupation with a figurative art that is stark, severe, spartan, symbolic and still. In art for me there is always an abiding desire for the sublime but that is an objective best concealled.

The title of the exhibition ‘Human Shield’ is specific to one similarly titled work in this exhibition but by implication it is appropriate to all of these works. Whether spiritual or physical, in each work an interior is protected by an exterior.

The curved polished contour of the figures and the large ovoid and elliptical heads always seem shield-like to me. The damage and injury sustained and remained upon the surfaces of such armory suggests a history lived and sometimes transcended.

My drawing is much influenced by sculpture; by the Egyptians, the Greeks, especially Praxiteles and also by Michelangelo, Bernini, Rodin, Brancusi and the fragments of most cultures.

The principle medium of the drawings, especially the skin surface of the figures is chinagraph pencil, a waxy material that can be polished to shine with a subtle three dimensionality against the matte flatness of the encompassing space. A certain crudity of execution is not completely concealed in order to retain a consciousness of our vulnerability and our brutality despite our edifices of strength and our refinements.

I usually endeavor to keep my imagery emotionally neutral. I try not to be flamboyant, nor literal, nor manipulatively expressive, neither erotic nor specifically religious. Such states can be implied but not exploited, I may fail in my attempt, but the restraint brings to the work a tension that for me is essential.

The extended series of large frontal face images titled, ‘Imago’ are consistent with this theme and at variance with it. The frontal faces are not drawn across an anatomical foundation as are the majority of other works here. These drawings are made from no specific person, they are a search through a million faces seen for an image that represents the complexity of humanity beyond the cliché.

July 2004