Fascinated by vulnerability, representations of women and the self-portrait, I create large scale portraits to challenge mainstream ideals of beauty and magnify small moments of fragility.
My portraits come together slowly, emerging from loose, abstract layers of paint. I rarely use a paintbrush, choosing instead to pour diluted glazes of oil paint on to a flat canvas in a multi-layered approach. In this way the process is highly spontaneous and unpredictable. Like a chess game, the paint makes it’s move and I respond, continually attempting to control chaos.
Much of my work focuses on the self-portrait and representations of other women in my life. I utilise these subjects to explore contemporary portraiture, intrigued by the idea of the gaze and how it relates to images of women in mainstream media.
I have also produced numerous pieces based on children I have worked with in India, finding their beauty and innocence so inspiring I wanted to capture it on a canvas. These pieces are special to me as they show fleeting, un-stylised moments of beauty.
I have been hugely inspired by artists who consistently choose to push their painterly mark-making forward into new realms like Marlene Dumas and Peter Doig. Having also a soft spot for abstract expressionism, I love the idea of bringing this approach and energy to a figurative subject and I finding new ways for the paint to surprise me. Alongside my explorations of womanhood and beauty, I am also always interested in how the paint interacts with itself on the canvas and how I can manipulate this for new and interesting results.
Johanna Wilbraham Fine Artist