Autoritratto – The Horseless Headman – 2013
Oil on canvas 75 x 75cm
Artist Self Portrait as severed head on African Drum. Following a long tradition of historic and mythic depictions of (mainly) male decapitation, the artist posits himself in the role of martyr. A personal commentary on the social status of male artists in a post feminist world. As Julia Kristeva stated, “After all, if art is a transfiguration, it has political consequences.” (The Severed Head – capital visions. 2012. p102).
The role of the drum has personal significance. The artist was born in Africa and learned to play the drums. Drums are a powerful symbol for him representing, inter alia, the potential for the primal heartbeat. In establishing percussive rhythm or syncopated abstraction, the sounds of the drum are an elemental and essential means of communication and are often used ritually. To function the drum requires human activation and interaction and the depiction of traditional hand made drums often found in the artist’s iconography is a strong response to his repulsion of computer generated soulless percussion. In traditional manufacture drums require the sacrifice or slaughter of an animal for the skin and we need to be constantly mindful of this. Mythic bush tales are told of drums made from human skin! By repetitively slapping the stretched skin of the sacrificed life, sound is born. And as a platform or plinth for the severed head, it is an appropriate if grizzly meeting of the skins!