The paintings Cleansing the Field 1 and 11 work independently of each other or together as an extended narrative.
The works follow a tradition within the genre of landscape but with a contemporary edge, both in the physicality and application of the paint and it’s subtle presentation of controversial imagery. Although these landscapes are representative of the physical world we inhabit, they are positioned on an imagined boundary between life and death, in obmutescence, a spiritualization of both landscape and the earth beneath our feet. I can suggest a broader context for my work in the writings of Gen Doy, particularly in the conclusion to Drapery, Classicism and Barbarism in Visual Culture, 2002 and also in the work of other artists, such as those exhibited in the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, After Shock, Conflict, Violence and resolution in Contemporary Art.
The title I selected, Cleansing the Field, is a literal translation from the Serbian, 'ciscenje terena' which led to the term ethnic cleansing and reflects the subject of these works which encompass such specific atrocities as those of the recent European history and also the broader and timeless capacity of man to inflict violent outrage and death upon his fellow man, those individuals and communities that are destroyed because of differing cultural structures, beliefs and power struggles.
Media photography has presented a graphic hardcore account of these atrocities. They can either momentarily shock or induce a numbing denial of the actuality of such despicable acts of violence. The concluding chapter of Gen Doy’s book suggests that these images may be considered beyond acceptance within the bounds of visual culture. This poses the question ‘ How can visual art, in what has come to be known as ‘the age of terrorism’ present the opportunity to contemplate such actions and the consequences for society, in a more meaningful way, a way that does not flood and exhaust our capacity for compassion, a dialogue and humanitarian response?’
Through what I consider to be the seductive nature of paint and the painted image and by working with drapery and the fold to suggest the absence or presence of the human body, I am attempting to sensitively support my endeavour to engage the viewer with such terrible aspects of human behaviour and the consequences. My work is an acknowledgement and contemplation of this, whilst at the same time addressing the question posed above, offering an alternative visual response to these issues.