some extent this is simply an old-fashioned exercise in chiaroscuro,
understood not simply as 'light-and-shade' but as it sometimes
used to be translated; 'clair-obscure'. Light itself is here understood
as an agent of clarity, but in its encounter with air and matter
it is deflected, scattered and obstructed in such complex ways
that its revelation is always only partial and teasing.
the painted objects frontally lit, the transition from clarity
to obscurity within this picture is also a journey from surface
into depth, drawing us from the superficially self-evident towards
bags are painted quite texturally with crisply impasted lights
and something like a physical approximation of the thin plastic.
What's in the bags is barely indicated, but because the surface
of the bag and the effect of light transmitted through it is so
truthful, I think the viewer will tend to accept it as a convincing
token of the riches contained within.
believe the original marble bust is called 'Veiled Lady', circa
1860, by Raffaelle Monti (mine is a plaster copy). Sculptures
of this sort have long been popular because they display such
virtuosity in their surface effects. These effects are deployed
in a complex, almost painterly way, using the play of light and
shade over the form to create an illusion of translucency and
of a surface beneath the surface.
veiled figure thus reinforces my reflection on painterly virtuosity
and the play of surface against depth within the painting ? a
'doubling' which emphasises that this play is not an accidental
feature of the picture, but its principal theme. Placed centrally
and facing the viewer, she is also a sort of mirror-image of the
beholder, a reminder that for us perception is inevitably clouded,
that our struggle to separate appearance from reality is never
painting a picture like this I usually place the canvas close
to the objects to be depicted, my aim being to transcribe as faithfully
as possible the dynamic of light and colour in the original. Although
in pursuing this dynamic I am pushed to utilise the entire tonal
range from white to black and the entire chromatic range from
neutral greys to the most intensely saturated colours, these extremes
within the picture remain bound together and controlled by their
interrelationships; by the optical coherence of these relationships.
The result, while strikingly forceful and vibrant, yet remains
naturalistic and harmonious.