I began oil painting in January 2016. For the first six months I painted only in black and white. This picture is from that time.
When my friend saw this he said, “I like the evil eye”. Until then, I hadn’t noticed that the brush strokes in the middle look like an angry eye, staring malignly at the viewer through a hole in the paint (unintentional figuration again).
This reminded me how the mind seeks out facial features in forms that bare only a passing resemblance, like this water draining from a sink.
The unintentional “evil eye” in my picture also reminded me of the furious eyes that appear so frequently in George Condo’s paintings, often peeping through radically reconfigured facial architecture. Of all the eyes in Condo’s work, my favourite is the one on the left in The Puerto Rican (2009).
Condo uses the phrase “psychological cubism” to describe how his paintings of faces present not only multiple angles, but multiple psychological facets. In The Puerto Rican, the right eye fixes us with a tense almost apologetic grin, but the left reveals something more menacing. Rendered in disparate economical marks, it glares manically, two dark arches acting as a doubled frowning brow, jaw gaping with small teeth, seemingly motion-blurred, suggesting predatory movement. As a portrait of barely repressed (partially obscured) psychosis, it has a kinship with Francis Bacon’s screaming popes.