Joshua Clay show statement:
I’ve always been fascinated by the things that hide in the shadows. The things that shape the people we are as individuals and as a collective. Shadows walk up walls and under doors, they influence our choices as they hiss in our ears and they cause us to destroy the things we’ve worked so hard to build. Shadows are the life experiences that follow us from one relationship to another, from one lie to the next and from one generation to another. They are the bad choices we refuse to accept responsibility for and the justification of lust and greed. The work that is being created for this show is both personal and collective. It is the manifestation of a haunted childhood and an acknowledgment of our horrific social construct. With this body of work I am exploring how the shadows of our past can shape the vision of our future. I am challenging the ideology of our current social structure as well as the progressive alienation of our future generations. In order to escape the whispers of our past we must first acknowledge the existence of these shadows.
Joshua Clay artist statement:
As an artist I’ve always strived for the silent moments shared between the artwork and the viewer. I want to grab my viewer by the heart and force them to deal with the emotions that I am trying to convey. Several years back I realized that I needed to find a way to eliminate the “who” from my figurative work in order to force people into dealing with the raw emotions that are void of so much of the art work present in society. My work is stylized in a way that removes it from the tangible world thus allowing my audience the opportunity to connect to the artwork in a way that is individualized and at the same time palpable to a large community. To this end, the viewer is able to lose themselves in my imagery. So many times I’m asked, “Who is the girl you paint?” and so many times I’ve answered, “She is a vessel to communicate an idea or an emotion through”, but she is so much more. Every artist adorns their work with a little piece of themselves, every painting a self portrait of the artist who created it. Initially I began painting women as my primary subject matter in order to allow myself the freedom to explore a broader range of emotions and situations in a different form than those I personally experience. I now know that the women I paint choose me. They are the manifestation of the strong, passionate and loving women who have shaped my life
I portray my women as sexy and strong as well as vulnerable and sad. There is something beautiful in sadness. Sadness softens the heart. For example, I find airports to be inspirational as I watch people leave their loved ones. In a way I find it beautiful to observe another person’s sadness and the way they express it, but sadness is a passing moment. That is another image that I work to capture in my paintings. I usually portray my figures in motion or with their hair in motion to symbolize capturing a fleeting moment, because it is these moments which often dictate very significant parts of our lives but they are so often taken for granted. Maybe there is a connection between my thinking that there is beauty in sadness and my longing to capture a passing moment.
Most of the accompanying elements in my paintings are symbolic. Through my work I am building a visual language of objects that I’m drawn to such as houses, clothing, and flowers. These and many others work to symbolize a greater meaning. One very significant element of my paintings is the eyes of the characters. Through a person’s eyes a great deal of information can be understood. My adult figures eyes are void of pupils because eyes are the gateway to your soul and as we progress through life we guard ourselves and don’t let people see into our souls. In contrast, my child figures have pupils to portray the purity in youth and the naivety of childhood.
Each artist is unique in his thoughts, views and ideas. The creation of these ideas is similarly unique for each artist. My characters take on a life of their own somewhere between the sketch and the finished painting… no matter how sure I am of how something looks it will usually change when it comes time to put the brush to the canvas. Some of my ideas come to me in a vision of a completed painting. Sometimes I struggle for inspiration and ideas, and sometimes they come in floods, idea after idea. Sometimes I’ll be looking at a fashion magazine or watching a movie and something I see will trigger an idea. I create artwork because I have to create – if I could not create I could not exist.
Artist website: www.joshuaclayart.com