Olivia Smith

2018, BA (Hons)  Fine Art Painting, University of Brighton 

"My on-going practice attempts to look at the dichotomy between sexual desire, love and religion. An example of these contrasting themes in my recent work is where a man is seen laying on his bed, ambiguously holding a laptop, the words above his head read ‘The Day of Rest’. The inspiration for this piece comes from reading studies that have shown that pornography is watched the most on a Sunday, a day which is also known by Christians as the Holy Sabbath day. This attempts to bring a sense of irony and humour to the painting by playing on both parts of sexual desire and religion. The importance of having a psychological concept behind my work is integral, although it is not always apparent at first glance, this is very similar to the concept of having a faith; by believing something you cannot see.
My painting can be seen as a response to Walter Sickert’s ‘Camden Town Nudes’, Sickert’s painted figures on beds begin to morph into one another creating a sensual ambiguity and haze. This study has allowed me to expand on the language of painting by allowing my own painting the freedom to do as it wishes, I have enhanced this by using an alla prima technique which helps to retain a speed and freshness to the brush strokes. I have invested a lot more in preliminary drawings and have begun to understand its importance when trying to achieve a perception of a person’s face and the way material hangs off the body. This aspect of drawing has helped me to experiment with a variety of tensions within a painting that I can achieve, for example I have found that I can play around with retaining a tension in the face while keeping the clothes painted in a looser style such as artists like Elizabeth Peyton, Alex Katz or Kehinde Wiley’s earlier portraits in ‘Passing and Posing (2002). Additionally, by looking at Baroque and Renaissance fashions and compositions in the Charles I exhibition at the RA, my perception of creating power in painting has expanded and thus informed my triptych where I have adopted the fashion to today’s modern culture where a tracksuit for a man is seen as the height of fashion. "
63 Temptations
181 cm x 153 cm
All God's Children (1)
240 cm x 150 cm
All God's Children (2)
240 cm x 150 cm

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