Feral Family Mammalian Pastoral
Sept. 2nd – Sept. 25th 2011
Sept. 2nd – Sept. 25th 2011
A new series of large-scale paintings from Kirsty Whiten, depicting moments of family intimacy set in a psychedelic forest. Bare essential scenes with infants, beautiful and frightening in one breath, see us stripped of clothes and technology, bringing to mind apocalypse and the great ape ancestors.
These are people made of each other; the vulnerable, the intimate, the real, the true of families; of mothers, fathers, helpers, raisers of children, protectors, connectors.
Nature and Nurture; what’s natural, instinctual, innate. What will do for now. What will keep us safe.
These scenes of the mammalian pastoral are set to take our Victorian ideas of motherhood as selfless and self-sacrificial and show it awkward, raw: mother as a brimming cup. A woman in demand, and in danger.
The beauty and complexity of naturalistic, animalistic, instinctual behaviours.
Their commonplace involvement in everyday life.
The meaning they impart about our existence
The culmination of the years during which Whiten has been through the “raw and brilliant” process of creating a young family, the images that make up Feral Family seek to express an unspoken but profound experience at the core of family, and of human experience. These are her first nudes, and the first time the artist herself has been depicted; here with her baby daughter, here with female companions in cave. “This is because the work is so personal, all the models are close friends who have shared intimate family moments with me for the work.” says Whiten. The scenes are set into uncanny landscapes with rough-painted foliage, often showing glimpses of day-glo and jarring texture beneath, a sense of threat and epic narrative pressing in from outside the frame.
“I’ve thought so much about it since I have had my babies,” says Whiten, “Nature and Nurture; what’s natural, instinctual, innate. What’s best. What’ll do for now. What’ll keep us safe…”
Kirsty Whiten – Artist’s Statement 2011
I use various photographs to work from; some I take myself, and others I find in books, newspapers or on postcards. I want to create an off-balance psychological portrait, as simply as possible.
The realistic finish of the image is important; I make it tight so that the subject is the focus, the mark-making is simply constructive. My meticulous treatment of a subject is a kind of reverence, I use the detail and the time spent on each image to deliberately increase the emotional impact. I want to make representative images that contain the contemporary awareness of how we present ourselves.
I’m striving to make frank images of people, dealing with their psychology and socially constructed behavior; making the viewer aware of the sexuality, control and neuroses underneath appearance. I want to make them uncomfortable by presenting a character very directly and intimately.
Humans like to set themselves apart from the rest of nature. To me there is just a continuation, we are animal, we have drives and instincts that always flow just under the surface of civilization. I am really interested in this line between human and beast; language, culture, and tool-making were all once held up as examples of what makes us unique, and have all been shown to exist in other animals.
I hope that whatever I am exploring in my images remains honest and directly related to my experience as a human.