Sunday, 25 May 2008

Body Art

Alice and I looked through Decorated Skin by Karl Gröning last night.

"Human beings are the only creatures that are able consciously to recognize their own selves and, in the process, their bodies. This gives the skin a special significance, as the final, slender layer that separates the self from the outside world." It's not a very anthropologically in-depth sort of book but there are some beautiful pictures and examples of symbolic meaning in decorating the body - scarification, tattoos, paint, make up for all sorts of purposes.

I would love at some point to do some artwork based around painting onto the human body, particularly faces because they are my favourite things to draw and observe.

Günter Brus said, "Self-painting is controlled self-mutilation." Maybe, but although I'm interested in symbolic meaning behind painting the body, I think I'd want to work with just painting in relation to the physical form of the face. One of my favourite time-wasting activities/thoughts to play with when I'm in a boring lecture is to imagine painting in someone's face.

--- I want to fill in the spaces in faces. Paint white from under the eyebrow and down to the curve of the lips, use a fine brush to line the cupid's bow in blue, fill in red from under the lower lashes to the cheek bones. Cover my hands in red powder and press my palms across the cheeks, crimson finger prints stretching up to under the eye sockets. Dot white fingertip marks across dark skin, paint pale eyelids black, stain my own lips red and grind black powder into the spaces between my teeth, pour thick, opaque pale turquoise paint over hair so it splits over the ear and runs in rivulets into the notch above the sternum. Paint in the curls of the ear, press magenta over the ear lobes, rub grey into the shadow under the mouth. Spill green over half a cheek, pick up individual hair ends with white, fill in smile lines with fine strokes to create a web across the face, dip eyelashes in red, white geisha highlighting strokes down the neck. Stain a whole face with glowing gold, so it shimmers in clouds from nostrils as they breathe, highlight the jawline in one solid line of purple, cut across the throat with orange. Engrave delicate henna patterns between eye and brow and down the philtrum, score a white Adam Ant line across the nose, spray silver under the chin so it showers upwards, ring the eyes in kohl.

Then take photos.

1 comment:

вещица said...

mmmm, fascinating - the inevitable touching when painting faces. the palm-rubbing, spreading, fixing with fingertips - the contact between the most exploring and the most expressive parts of your body. it sounds like comming to know somebody's identity and remapping it.

also i love looking at wrinkles, scars and imperfections and imagining they're a strange kind of writing that time uses to tell us - reading voyeurs - of events that impress themselves despite self-control.

oh, and the counterpart of faces - hands! and having fingers stained with ink! makes me think that there's more I haven't said and am not conscious of, but it has stayed on my fingertips, about to leak out.

can't wait for exams to be over so we can make many an artsy mess. for now, thanks for inspiring my tea-break! (: