Choose an section to view.

Installation One

Installation Two

Portfolio / Tribe

Tribe: Statement for Community Art Show
May 2009

Tribe was originally created as a conceptual work that evolved out of an earlier exhibition of oil paintings (Painting, Memory and Metaphor, 2005 )in the tradition of trompe l'oeil, which explored the way we construct our personal histories and identities from old family photographs. The title of the work suggests that these ideas could have a wider social, cultural and political significance.

Like the the other paintings in this series it is a representation in paint of a photograph as a still life object, a small flat paper object in a shallow space that happens to also have an image printed on it, a familiar device in 17th century trompe l'oeil. The viewer is confronted by a picture inside a picture and must therefore reconsider their 'reading' of the photographic image inside its painted white frame in relation to the tactile and visceral qualities of actual oil paint, with its 'frozen' marks and gestures capturing the perceptual moments as the artist created the image. What we perceive from a short distance as a recognizable representation of an object that happens to be also an image only resembles 'reality' until we move closer and then the familiar patterns disintegrate into abstract blobs and dashes of paint.

Originally the painting formed part of a larger installation that included the photograph, (the still life object) from the 1950s and some contemporary surveillance equipment in the form of a video camera and monitor which recorded and played the moving image of the viewer in the gallery in the 'real time' of the present moment. Observing the screen the viewers saw themselves from a similar oblique angle, contrasting both static and moving images, they mirrored the expressions and gestures of the people captured and frozen in the moment the photograph was taken almost 60 years ago. This reference to time helped the work to function as a 'vanitas' painting or 'memento mori' which is also part of the traditional meanings in 17th cen. trompe l'oeil painting.

The object of entertainment in both the photographic image and the painting remains mysteriously outside of the frame and we must imagine what it may be indirectly from what is implied by the facial expressions, body language and patterns of movement of the individuals who form part of the crowd.

The photograph, camera and monitor are missing from the current installation. By leaving the 'jigsaw' of composite pieces incomplete however the viewer is forced to partially build the image in their mind and so develop a literal metaphor for how we 'construct' our perceptions of reality, history and identity. The viewer is therefore drawn into the work as a direct participant as they and the act of viewing itself become literally a part of the installation and the meaning of the work.

The intention of the work is to draw the viewer actively into an extended metaphor about time and space, the nature of the media and visual perception and about what is real and what is illusory within various 'frames' of reference.

Alan Mitchell

Metamorphoses Paintings & Drawings. All work featured in this portfolio is created by and © Alan Mitchell 2009. Website created by Op45.