Collection: Bernard Greaves
This painting series reflects my aim to understand and give permanence to my Omi and Opa’s early life experiences. This deeply personal endeavour arises in light of the declining health of my grandparents, and their unwillingness to discuss their experience in Germany during the traumas of World War II. I now have recourse to my painting practice, in lieu of an account my Grandparents are unable to give, to interpret and understand my familial history.
This interpretation is displayed through an investigation of historic family photography and its manifestation into painting. I have manipulated old photographs in photoshop into halftone ‘dot’ images. By then projecting them onto canvas and tracing and filling in with oil paint, I have altered the images into new works. My halftone works distort the viewer’s visual perception as they move away from the image - an allusion to the metaphysical distance between myself and my grandparent’s memory. Attempting to recreate my grandparents’ experiences in the absence of their ability to directly explain it to me, the viewer of my works must draw on their own memory and experience to complete the image before them.
The halftone images present forms that the viewer can distinguish, yet are unable to clearly recognise. The photoshopping and removal of information builds a story that I have partly manufactured, in an attempt to construct a view of my grandparents that I prefer to imagine, often complicated by images of National Socialist party insignia coupled with the reluctance of my grandparents to speak about it.
My process for this body of work intends to highlight and retain my grandparents' stories through the act of painting. My grandparents' lack of written or audio documentation of their past has led me to paint these stories through my own eyes. This distortion of the images - removing information and reducing the photographs to a minimal colour palette - implies themes of loss, distortion of truth and nostalgia. The painting process doesn’t aim to solve the mystery or unearth the historical accuracy of my familial past, rather display my attempts to hold onto their memory as best I can.