Struggle

Suggested in the feedback of my typology domain presentation was to look up other artists that represent 'struggle' within their work, as this is what I'm trying to convey within my personified vessels.


Lots of the artworks I discovered were portraying struggle in relation to something specific, for example there were lots of arts depicting war, relationship struggle, racial issues and slavery or gender struggle. I want to depict a more general struggle, where it's not related specifically to an issue but leaves it to the viewer to determine what is happening.


To get an understanding of what a 'general struggle' could look like, I researched a variety of different artworks and artists to draw different elements from. I really like the creepiness of Giacometti's walking sculptures, they initially appear scary and like they're coming towards you but on closer inspection, it seems that actually they're lonely figures walking through the world looking for purpose or company. Similarly, John Desmond's wire clothes also create a feeling of loneliness but more from a point of loss. Tracey Emin's bed furthers these ideas, coming from a standpoint of mental struggle and mental health. Elements I want to take into my own work include that feeling of isolation - when we view a humanistic figure that seems alone and struggling we feel more empathetic and a desire to help. Equally, the concept of 'creepiness' that Giacometti makes adds to the weariness my figures also have. The textured surface seems like the figures are crumbling away and in need of help, which I want to keep.


Furthermore, I also wanted to look at two-dimensional artworks and explore how 'struggling' is created within mark making. Jenny Saville was one of my favourite examples of this, her layering of marks and redrawing of images over each other creates the idea of movement and struggling away. Other artists I looked at include Guy Denning, I like the idea of having missing elements or empty space. This also adds to the feeling of decay and crumbing away, which to me adds to the idea of struggle as often its related to feeling a loss of control - well represented by not being able to physically keep yourself together.


Research mindmap:

Taking on board these themes and ideas, I wanted to explore how I could incorporate these into my work. One possibility is wrapping the form with metal wire, following the curves and folds so that its fairly tight to the structure - making it seem contained and trapped. I could also have a few of the wires broken so it looks like its trying to escape its confinements and free itself, this might also strengthen viewers desire to help it if it is trying to achieve a task (breaking free).


As well as this, I'm interested in exploring the idea of decay and making something people feel slightly grossed out by but also have a desire to help. That uncertainty of 'do I, dont I?' playing to and questioning human sensibility would also make reactions to this work interesting.

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