In my current work and painting practice I am combining abstract and figurative elements : architectural details with female figures. I use architectural details as a starting point in my work. I like using elements of reality in my paintings and transform them in my works.
The works that I have included in the degree portfolio have common subjects such as : the role of women in public spaces, walking journeys and architectural details. In my latest works I am looking to include the human figure in my paintings, especially the female body. In my artworks I wanted to create a deformation of reality as well in the way I painted some shapes and the female figures.
In my final year, I started to develop my painting practice and thought of different ways to construct my compositions. I used to be more focused on architectural details, how to include them in my paintings. I was thinking more about the shapes that I was using, the colours, and the surface of the work. Then, I became more intrigued by my walking journeys, so I started thinking more about the public space and how I felt as a woman while walking in a big new city. I started to combine elements from architecture with human figures/female figures. I then incorporated the notion of the spectator in relation to public spaces and women, and also being a participant of the crowd.
Before I start a new painting I collect different photographs that I take in my walking journeys, usually of architectural details, and I use them as a source of inspiration. In my working process I use sketches as a starting point and collages as well (watercolours and oil pastels on paper or clay work). Taking photographs of my work and using them to make collages made me think more about the space around a painting and the use of the female body in my paintings. During the final year I started to think more about the use of colours in relationship to the subject of the painting and what I wanted to convey with it. Besides the painting on canvas, I started to do some clay works as well, to connect them with the paintings. The clay works were supposed to be exhibited along side the paintings
In my research I am looking at the position and the role of women in public spaces, how they were perceived centuries ago in comparison to nowadays. I am researching my walking journeys as well, looking at the act of walking. As I was analysing my walking journeys throughout London and Brasov, Romania, I started thinking more about women in public spaces and especially on the street. In my work I am thinking about what it means to be a woman in a public space, wondering in a new, big city where you can get lost. Connected to this idea, I looked at the notion of the ‘flaneur’ and how it is related to the modern woman. I am intrigued about how Baudelaire or others describes the flaneur just as a male figure and why is that: ‘ A figure of masculine privilege and leisure, with time and money and no immediate responsibilities to claim his attention […].’ ( Elkin 2016, p. 3). There has been a lot of debate around why the flaneur could be just a man: ‘One of the arguments about why women could not be flaneur was that they were, as either commodities or consumers, incapable of being sufficiently detached from the commerce of city life.’ ( Solnit, 2001, p. 237). Another argument was that, the flaneur needs to be able to become invisible in the crowd: ‘ We would love to be invisible the way a man is. We’re not the ones who make ourselves visible […].’ ( Elkin, 2016, p. 13).For centuries women had to confront with different situations when walking alone in a public space/on the streets and that is the case also now is some parts of the world: ‘ […] the threat implicit in sexual harassment, and rape itself have all limited women ability to walk where they wished.’ ( Solnit 2001, p. 234).
I find it really interesting how Elkin talks about the term of the flaneur and how she changes the name for women into FLANEUSE. She talks about the role of women in public spaces and of walking on the street of a city: ‘The joy of walking in the city belongs to men and women alike. To suggest that there couldn’t be a female version of the flaneur is to limit the ways women have interacted with the city to the ways men have interacted with the city’ ( elkin, 2016,p. 11).
With my work I try to think around the questions: Is the man still the entitled observer?
What does it means for me as a woman to be a spectator of the crowd, but be at the same time part of the crowd?
What does it mean to be invisible as a woman in a public space, especially on the street?
How does the feeling of being lost influence my walking journeys?
An artist that inspired me for my latest works is Claire Woods. I like the way she deals with the space in her large scale paintings and how she includes the human body in her work. At the same time I like the contrasts between colours that she uses, the fact that she deals with fragility and vulnerability in her artworks and the way she is sculpting and image with paint.
‘If we tunnel back, we find there always was a flaneuse passing Baudelaire in the street’ (Elkin, 2016, p. 11).
‘Of course women’s walking is often constructed as performance rather that transport, with the implication that women walk not to see but to be seen, not for their own experience, but for that of a male audience, which means that they are asking for whatever attention they receive.’ ( Solnit, 2001,p. 234)
I feel that I developed my practice in a really good way during the final year. I started to think more about how I construct my composition and how I use my research in order to inform my practice. I have learned to be patient and to trust my intuition more and sometimes to let myself be led by my work. I have started to think more about how I use the space in my painting and how to create a relationship between the background and the female figures. I also thought more about the space around the works/paintings and how does it influence them. With my paintings I want to show that the limit of the work is not the canvas, it’s beyond it. In the future I would like to develop my ideas further, and maybe try to escape from the canvas surface and ‘play’ with colours in a different environment, such as a whole room.