Artist statement

Building on the traditions of portraiture, I reappropriate mass-mediated images into gestural paintings through an uncomplicated and intuitive use of paint. Drawn from a range of popular cultural sources including fashion magazines, my work critically engages with the discourse surrounding the cult of celebrity in contemporary society. As an artist I question whether the media’s obsession with celebrity represents a common aspiration in society for fame or is merely the feeding of a voyeuristic appetite.

I look at the effect of fame by considering the anonymous faces surrounding the celebrity. This might be the individual in a crowd or the model advertising a celebrated branded product. The unknown person is elevated from the mundane to the status of icon through paint. In only superficially adhering to the photographic source, I allow the randomness of the brush strokes to bring out an imagined personality of the subject that was superfluous to the intentions of the mediated image from which they were drawn. By separating the individual from their original context, I invite the viewer to consider whether they ‘see’ these individuals.

Thick brush marks and accidental drips give my work an unpredictable edge in creating the human face. The immediacy of gesture serves to convey the ephemeral nature of fame. Heightened colours are used to differentiate the paintings from the flat images that serve as the source material, giving them an emotional charge.

Julie Bennett working on a portrait

Julie Bennett working on a portrait