Victoria Cantons

Artist Statement

My work has grown out of what Francis Bacon called "a tightrope walk between figurative painting and abstraction." A studio routine is embedded in my practice, which uses writing, photography and drawing to inform my painting. I am also interested in the expanded field of performatory practice.

I am interested in themes of community and sociability, empathy and vulnerability. I view my work as a personal response to the present moment. My concerns are that though art can be a personal catharsis, in what I feel is an age of increasing cynicism and growing apathy, art can wrestle with some of the most basic and at the same time most complex problems: love, fear, despair, desire, hunger, emotional poverty and depravity through metaphor and a symbolic language, new fairytales and folklore. I use photography is a form of reportage, a way of looking outwards whilst drawing and writing look inwards, an exploration of the psychological landscape. In this way art can be a springboard to exploring and discussing deeper truths about politics, culture and the individual.

While Leo Tolstoy was paraphrasing Plato's Socrates when he wrote “We can know only that we know nothing, and that is the highest degree of human wisdom”, I see art as an opportunity to explore questions regarding how we respond to the world we live in and how we interact with each other but also a form through which to contemplate internal and external struggles with life and why we try to hold onto things or the moments loved most before they disappear.

I have previously looked to a diverse body of work which has included Western Art Hybridisation particularly the European Renaissance of the 14th–17th centuries, Dutch Golden Age still life painting, twentieth century Abstract-Expressionism, German and American Neo–Expressionist painting. My range of references are highly eclectic, from Goya and Velázquez to Picasso, Robert Motherwell and Pop. The work of Marina Abramovic, Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Neo Rauch and David Salle also interest me. The photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nan Goldon and Saul Leiter and the films of Luis Buñuel, Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott also inform my practice.

I refuse to limit myself to one signature style although I like to think that themes and elements of my practice echo one another, and a cast of repeated and recognisable characters, symbols, colours and motifs are emerging.

I believe art is a search for that something previously unseen and untouchable, for the strands of lace —the symbols, the motifs, the repetitions— that bind life together, and I wish to explore the new forms and patterns that emerge and new meditations on the value of human life.

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