Kristine Moran Paintings (Part 2)
Below is a short little interview I had with Kristine, which provides some fascinating insight into her work. I don’t think anything Kristine articulated contradicts my analysis of her work in my previous post, but in some ways it’s better to hear from the artist herself, as opposed to a critical analysis or review of the work. Not being able to see her work in person here in Seattle, I certainly appreciate Kristine’s time and willingness to answer a few questions.
Would you articulate the central thesis of your latest work?
My artistic practice is based on the creation of a central character which I situate in contentious sites of struggle. Various references from literature, film and mythology enter into the work to make part of the narrative that runs throughout each painting.
Particularly intriguing to me is the unearthing of human nature’s innate region, that from which comes the ability to transform oneself into something seemingly incomprehensible or violent as a need for survival (be it psychologically or physically speaking). I’m interested in that moment where one is pushed beyond their own limits, and as a result, transformed into something absurd or unrecognizable. This narrative is the underpinning of the work and motivates the outcome of the central protagonist in the paintings. The embodiment of this struggle is reflected in the expressive quality of the painted gesture, manifested as an additive and subtractive painting process.
In some ways, I think my paintings deal with what is unknowable in a person, they are an attempt to express what would be revealed if the mind was able to have a direct physical outward manifestation of its subconscious/conscious state.
What is the informational source you use to create your paintings? i.e. from life, from memory, from books or magazines or stories?
I’ve recently found myself drawn towards classical mythology, but especially the myths of Greek tragedy, those that reflect the themes of love and desire, death, hubris, retribution, and good and evil, as a way to try to understand contemporary life. Through painting I’m trying to discover something about human nature that I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on.
I also collect images from magazines, books and film stills, some I find on the internet, some are my own personal photographs and others are of historical paintings. These images are used as reference materials. By having these various images pasted on the wall in front of me while I paint, I can usually begin to see some sort of narrative forming. As the painting evolves so does the narrative, and at some point, the painting takes on a form of its own. Formal issues and narrative continue to shape and reshape themselves until both are resolved.
Am I correct in seeing female figures in your work? If so, is there a gender specific content to this work?
The central entity is created from fragments of shelter, human and animal parts, yet remains unidentifiable as a whole. The fractured elements are assembled together in order to express a manifestation of conditions that exists outside of the norm. Often times there will be womanly shapes, such as breasts or arms, and perhaps some beings are decidedly more sensual than others, but I consider these figures to be morphing into something that is beyond gender.
Your use of paint and colors seems much looser now, more succulent than the pastels and tightly controlled compositions in your previous paintings. How did that evolution happen?
I previously was trying to define what this central protagonist was made up of, what elements made its shape. It was suggested that I try sculpture to further explore this aspect of my ideas. I ended up making a few sculptural objects, and this helped me to understand more fully what it was I was after. Afterward, I felt I didn’t need to describe this ‘being’ in such detail through painting. It freed up my paintings; I could express the ideas I was after as oppose to feel the need to illustrate them.
I’ve read that people have compared your work to that of Francis Bacon, but I tend to disagree with that comparison. I see much more Gerhard Richter in your paintings, particularly the way you seem to walk along the line between representation and abstract, non-representational mark making. Are either of these comparisons fair? Who has influenced your work?
Yes, certainly Gerhard Richter has been recognized to have had an important impact on the history of painting and I have a deep respect for how rigorously his concepts are tied to his painting methods. But there is an emotionality in Francis Bacon’s work which I’m fascinated by. He seems to have captured a human vulnerability which I quite like. I think he let his own frailty and frustrations enter into his work, on a very personal level.
Another artist that has influenced my work is Cy Twombly, particularly the series of paintings he did in the early 1960’s dealing with erotic myths. There is a series of paintings entitled Ferragosto, that have lush fleshy passages symbolic of Bacchanal festivities that Twombly made while living in Italy. Twombly stated a few years later that he could never have painted those works in America “because they draw on a freedom of indulgent sensual release that only living abroad allowed”.
Perhaps my paintings are symbolic of a struggle to contain these sensual indulges, unlike the freedom that Twombly had found abroad, my paintings come from a place of restrictions and moralistic social codes. They are representative of the grit and rawness that bubbles just below the surface of society, that which exists among all of us but is seldom acknowledged.
Thank you, Kristine.