I draw and paint from found photos of strangers, with particular focus on ambiguous or, at a glance, neutral expressions. The unknown subject and therefore his or her unknown emotions have become an important aspect in my work where I in turn find myself instinctively attempting to read the individual – something which gradually becomes apparent in my treatment of the work.
If the intent of portraiture is to capture the subject in their truest sense, I am then a kind of anti-portrait maker, passing my own subconscious judgement on an unknown face and inviting the viewer to then do the same when faced with the finished piece.
My recent work features vanishing or obscured fragments of faces - maybe sometimes just an eye, nose or mouth - unpicking the idea of portraiture even further. Sometimes these fragments hang alone in an empty space, sometimes they are anchored with gestural marks, blocks of colour or bold outlines. The focus is still on the subject but the power is in the parts we cannot see. Our brains are invited to fill in the blanks.
I try not to impose a clear cut narrative on the viewer. My aim is to illicit an emotional response without dictating to the viewer what they should or shouldn't be feeling. I have become fascinated by the range of responses to each portrait - what one person perceives can be in complete contradiction to the next. Sometimes these reactions can be clearly explained by the individual and other times it is something visceral that can't quite be placed. The piece is then no longer about the face looking back at us, but about the feelings that it stirs and what that means about us.