Behind the image with Adam Day at PoP-UP
My work True Presence for the ‘retreat from reality’ project is culmination of a great deal of visual research from museums and my environment studying in Florence. During my research I was predominately interested in fallen figures or figures with a sense of an inner trouble.
As my time in Italy progressed, I experienced some very historic and opulent rooms and atmospheres that were truly mesmerizing. However, it made me think that these aristocratic individuals who owned these residences had their own glut of problems just like everyone else.
Working within the tradition of portraiture, I set up a figure in a very opulent common room where high-class individuals do their business and meet with important guests. The figure is dressed in a business suit representing power and control in an environment that seems like there shouldn’t be a worry in the world. However, I’ve illustrated the face and the hands in a manner that conveys a fleeting sense, a blurring of his presence. He is there . . . and yet he is not there. The absence of the face shows the true troubled nature of the individual in this environment.
I wanted to convey the retreat in this manner because no matter the stature of an individual, they will always have their problems in life.
The true integrity of an individual can be perceived differently than what it truly is. This work talks about how people in power may be perceived as perfect, but it is not always the truth.
Retreating from reality is, in a sense, a paradox. When we truly retreat, we let all of the stresses and daily norms out of our mind and approach a state of what ‘truly is’ in front of us. It is in opposition to a state of mind that’s made up of fabricated perceptions of what lies ahead based on an action in the present. I’m not talking about relaxing while doing a hobby such as golf, or reading. I am talking about the state in which an individual sees stimulations as they decidedly are. As student in Italy, I was in retreat from my environment and stresses of where I live and whom I interact with in America. However, I am in Italy- with a new set of stimulations at hand that cause me not to truly experience my atmosphere for what’s it’s really worth.
My painting goes into an observation of the ultimate retreat, a utopia if you will. The ideal state where one can let go of everything and perceive life for what it truly is. You cannot run away from the problems, you merely retreat from the state of mind where the problem exists. I placed the figure in the Tuscan countryside because I wanted to show that I am a resident of the land seeking a retreat from everything man made. Going into a wilderness of the unknown is a space for reflection. It becomes clearer for reflecting what ones stance is in the world; what is working in ones life and what is not working. Retreats are where an individual can take a true look at their relationships, what they’re good at, what they have to offer in the world. All to help strengthen their ties with the environment they live in. In a sense, taking a step out from reality to build you back up and see things as they decidedly are.
As a student of Italy, I was on a retreat from my environment because was am able to take a step back at look at where I lived. Un-subjectively think about those whom I associate with, and what influence I can potentially bring upon them. To take a retreat, one is able to evaluate life from a perception where they’re not in the life that they’re evaluating. The observing is taking place in a foreign environment where the social norms, values, relationships, morale, and traditions are drastically different.
Compositionally, the figure is placed largely in the frame to push the idea that a retreat is closer than we believe. The figure is not clothed because I didn’t want to show the figure wearing a fabric of reality that has been manufactured by society. The trail in my painting symbolized the trail of life. There is always going to be a destination to go to, and a destination to go back to. When one truly grasps the true nature of a ‘Retreat from reality’ they are left with an ultimatum of direction to take. To go back? To stay? To keep moving? This retreat I believe builds a strong sense of self-worth. The expression of the figure is a gaze. A gaze that’s not empty but full of thought, a thought that is within the isolated environment of purity