Occupying a place between document and fiction, my painting practice explores the relationship of women to domestic space, and reflects on a history of representing women in art. The locating of a specific house, most recently a contemporary â€˜grand designâ€™, is the starting point for creating a set in which the fictitious scenarios I develop can unfold. A combination of the existing contents of the house and additional props are used to subvert an idea of domestic order, while a lone female figure inhabits multiple characters from the cleaner, to the mistress, to the lady of the house.
The concept of the â€˜grand designâ€™ house embodies an idea of aspirational living and the open plan minimal spaces of such houses dictate to an extent how one might live in them. This sense of control is echoed in the way I use the interior as an abstract structure in which to place the figure. In the large works, she is seen veiled, framed and contained by architectural space and light, and at times lost or multiplied in reflective surface, engaging with multiple versions of herself, setting up an uneasy relationship with the position of a voyeuristic gaze. The smaller paintings draw the viewer into details of the room, a specific object or a more intimate encounter with the model. These recurring objects and props such as oranges, and classical vases operate as both points of art historical reference and banal domestic paraphernalia, creating threads of narrative between the works. A sense of artifice and disguise in the unexplained actions and at times absurd dress of the figure reinforces the fictive painting space, conveying an oddly charged atmosphere, hovering between the tedium of housework, the boredom of days spent home alone and something darker, more sexually charged.
The work rests within the historical context of the female subject in painting, but is reconsidered through a female gaze, re-examining a traditional artist/model exchange. The objectifying gaze of the male artist on the â€˜otherâ€™ is replaced with an implied â€˜sisterhoodâ€™; the apparent depiction of a shared moment becomes a projection space or template for investigating both broader and personal notions of femininity. This play is compounded through the editing and fabrication of the painting process itself, arriving at the representation of a place which is neither fully true to life nor wholly virtual.
Ana Cristea Gallery