Historic portrait paintings by Manet and Rembrandt are the starting point for Selina Foote’s fresh new work: small-scale meticulous paintings on silk or canvas which create a sense of intimacy for the viewer. Working with a rule based system to develop each painting, Foote borrows information from reproductions of the original works. Her abstracted compositions, colour palettes and rhythmical geometric motifs hover between figuration and abstraction, giving way to a new image.
“Each of these paintings begins with a drawing that is developed through a process of gleaning information from a reproduction image of a historical painting. This process of drawing from a reproduction of a painting rather than from the original object identifies the reproduction as a thing in itself. It has its own size and scale, its own palette, surface and texture and perhaps most importantly the framed object is reduced to two-dimensions. While being a stand in for the absent original, the reproduction replaces it. Both the reproduction and the drawing produced as a response take on the role of a material, a tool for the painting process. Because the source painting has been mediated by photography, and exists here only as a reproduction, it must undertake a process of becoming a painting, while already representing one. It must become, once again, as Foucault termed it, a ‘picture-object.’
Areas of light, shadows, line and colour extracted from the original painting inform a new image, acting as a catalyst to begin the painting process. It solves the problems of composition by establishing a series of pictorial givens. The canvas is no longer blank, the painting has something to work against, a struggle takes place. The source image sets up the composition: having fulfilled this role it can then be removed, almost without a trace. The final paintings produce an entirely different outcome to the original. As the paintings pull away from the original representational image they become a thing in themselves. The resulting images may appear entirely unlike their source.
Selina Foote, who graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2011, is showing work for the first time at Two Rooms. The artist was included in Prospect: New Zealand Art Now 2011, at City Gallery Wellington and the Window Project Space, University of Auckland. Foote has work in the collections of the Chartwell Trust and Museum of New Zealand;Te Papa Tongarewa. She currently lives and works in London, United Kingdom.