My work builds upon themes of identity, representation and culture through figurative portraits of individuals around me. As a response to current controversy over Dana Schutz’s Open Casket painting, my practice centres to demonstrate how I as an artist (and other artists) can provide subjects with agency by speaking up for, rather than speaking on behalf of different cultural groups. I approach painting sociologically—how can I select and represent communities around me with an agenda of inclusion, respect and cultural recognition? Through closely worked, representational large-scale canvas paintings, I seek to give maximal agency to my subjects.
I immerse myself in multiculturalism, where cultures are brought to a collective point, where we are no longer distinguished by race and can be seen to belong to one [multi]cultural group (Vertovec, 2007). This brings focus to how integration has allowed for ‘new’ environments, including spaces such as food and takeaway outlets. Presenting artwork with a context I understand and experience, I am depicting the community I take part in. This avoids the possibility of appropriation but shows a level of inclusivity and responsibility to choose subjects not based upon their race but the environment or social setting they are a part of.