My paintings are mainly of human figures but also of apes, birds and other creatures, all represented in a brief, decisive, energetic way. While the monkeys, birds and insects fly free, the human figures are strugglIng, toiling and trudging through the wilderness of the world. The wilderness may be a natural one, a desert, an ice field, a mountainous landscape, a frozen forest (traversed by Sami reindeer herders or Arctic explorers or cowboys or Berbers) or it may be a glossy, impersonal public space such as a superstore, banqueting hall, casino or mall. This last kind of urban wilderness has inspired series of tourists, clubbers, diners and elderly shoppers. The settings are frequently overwhelming in the sense that they dwarf or challenge the living creature. They are both beautiful and demanding–qualities dictated or enhanced by the presence of strong, glaring light which exposes, blitzes, transforms the figure and sets up an arena of contrast between dazzle and darkness. The figure in sunlight also casts strong shadows, inscribing it in both time and space against a boundless white background. Struggling and beleaguered though they may be, my shoppers, Sami, explorers, horsemen are also resilient, singular, vigorous and determined with their liveliness enhanced by the quick, spontaneous way in which they are represented.
Guardian journalist Carole Jahme’s interview in my studio: