Firstly, can you please tell us a little bit about your process as a painter ?
I like looking at classical paintings for inspiration. I love Maurice Denis, Caravaggio. I collect imagery that inspires a mood and a scene. Before starting a painting I’ll put together maybe 10-12 images, paintings, color samples, and screenshots from movies, usually melodramas. Once I start the actual painting I can’t look at anything because it throws me off. My perspective is already so warped I don’t need someone else’s in there. I pick out music that matches the mood, usually sweeping romantic scores like John Barry, but not always. When I painted “Evening Dream” I listened to David Bowie’s “Heroes” on repeat for the first four days.
Can you tell us a bit about the worlds and situations you portray your subjects in and the humour embedded in the paintings ?
Poor Gray’s world is limited to what I can paint, hence no cars, no women, until I learn how. If it’s an existential joke, I am playing God. Gray never takes action. He is usually totally still, don’t expect him to come leaping off the canvas. His sexual adventures is all he has really. He’s trapped, but I don’t think he would leave if he could.
Are there much use of symbols in your work ? Are there hidden meanings in some of the content ?
I don’t want to ascribe specific meanings to each thing, as I want them to be open for interpretation. But yes I love hidden messages. I like referencing specific elements of paintings from the canon of art history, it feels bad in a good way.
Tell us a little bit about Gray: Who is he ? Why does he exist ? Why do you choose to portray him in the way you do ? Is he recently converted gay ?
Poor Gray is an aimless, anxious man. He was born gay, it’s a part of his personality. He wasn’t always sexually active however. Until I began to explore my own sexuality, and found that my interactions with men were honestly naive. I started inserting Gray into hyper sexualized scenes as an attempt to regain control of my own sexual identity, while hoping to shed the gender norms that I felt bound by working in the fashion industry.
People are very curious about Poor Gray’s gender and sexuality, when gender has been something I’ve hoped to purposefully ignore in my work. I don’t want to be another woman artist making work about my femininity. Gray is androgynous, just like Caravaggio’s Lute Player which was considered a portrait of a woman for centuries.