Mixed media: etching, pastel, pencil crayon, watercolour, Indian ink
6 x 18 inches
This image was created from a copperplate etching printed on an off-white BFK Rives rag paper. Although the edition size is 22, each work is distinct with very different watercolour, Indian ink, pencil crayon and gold/silver leaf designs.
Odalisque sipping beer is the portrait of an ex-lover who had many hairdressing fashionista friends. One day he allowed one such friend complete carte blanche. The result was a fascinating asymmetrical windswept-styled coiffure of many layers, levels and false parts. I drew him lost in thought lounging on my bed in my Plateau Montréal apartment.
In this piece, I am playing with the notion of the odalisque in nineteenth century European art, reversing the traditional order by offering an exotic white male figure for the black female gaze. The clothing and comforter designs are inspired by influences from my family culture, and include references to the do-it-yourself craft climate of the 1970s, William Morris, Japanese and African patterning. Integral to this work is the saying , evil travels in straight lines, from African folklore. In homage to this idea and to confuse the evil spirits, I have incorporated multiple designs with frequent breaks in the composition.
Much of my work is based on my observations of human behaviour and the importance of visual representation to establish and maintain cultural norms. This piece is a rumination on both the complexity and simplicity of being human. With this piece I hope to create a link between the distant past and the present, as well as differing cultures, in an attempt to illustrate how little the human spirit worldwide has changed in the last several thousand years.