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Extrinsic / Intrinsic 2017

When next you tell of what you view
Think others see as well as you
Nor wonder if you find that none
Prefer your eyesight to his own

- James Merrick (from The Chameleon)

In the series of paintings, there is an exchange between traditional and new: echoing the history and tradition of portrait painting while reflecting the evolution of our story-telling through modern markings (tattoos): the things we honor and give meaning to.

It is about redefining and fusing together fragments of culture in an eclectic and ever-changing world.

Intrinsic/Extrinsic is a journey of interplay and making it up as you go along.

It is a constant exchange and dialogue between myself, the model, and the viewer: the myriad of influences that went into creating of the headdress/mask; how the headdress was "activated" when the model was wearing or "acting" it; the interpretation and translation into a painting, the viewer imprinting his own meaning on the painting.

It is unstable and always in flux, like intrinsic and extrinsic. It is forever changing in how we view the world and ourselves in it. The meaning of each headdress or mask: how do you fabricate yourself?

In essence, Intrinsic/Extrinsic is about a liberation of oneself in as much as it is an owning of oneself.

It is the acknowledgment that one can never truly stand out of your biases and judgements, but knowing this, may provide a deeper level of freedom from the construction and instructions of a way of being in the world.

"...that man, suddenly realizing that he does not understand, will begin to understand.

Therefore the only task left to man is to tear off all that dead skin until he finds himself in the hour of the great nakedness"

(Esslin. The Theatre of the Absurd. 1980: 96).


As a way of seeing or being in the world, a headdress or mask worn, may be representative or a symbolic beacon of the social mores, collective consciousness and archetypal roles in the play or enactment of the "life drama".

A headdress/mask shows the manifold sides and duality of existence: the mask projects inward and outward; it conceals and reveals; it captures and releases.It is a shape-shifter: transferring or allowing the essential and yet ever-changing nature of emotional and psychological life of 'being'.

In Intrinsic/Extrinsic, I explored these notions by creating a series of headdresses/masks, using found objects such as animal bones and jaws, shells, cutlery and rope.

The headdresses were then painted in uniform white blurring the line between what may be considered as sacred and the everyday object. It is a reflection of our interior realities paraded as exterior crowns, and in some cases, very literally: A spinal crown of chicken wishbones - as representative of human consumption (we are what we eat?).

The white blankness also serves as a symbolic reminder of creating one's own significance and meaning for oneself in the world.

More often than not, we imprison ourselves by what we may perceive to be intrinsic to our own being defined by extrinsic forces - culture, tradition, religion, etc. - or what we may believe these institutions teach us about behaving like human beings.

It is not the condemnation of any social institution, but rather an honesty about and to oneself of the deep-held believes that we accept as normality into our minds and the invisible headdresses that we wear/parade.

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