This self-portrait is a composition consisting of difficult moments which make up a happier whole. Many of the symbols used here are very personal.
The image of a jester comes in part from a character I performed in a school play back when I was about 12. I loved theatre and drama as a child. While I didn’t relate too much to the actual character himself, I did identify with other things we associate with jesters: bright colours, foolishness, servitude (to some royal whimsy), fun, music, self-deprecation, dancing, etc.
This isn’t as depressing as I think I’ve made it seem by the title. It’s just my way of looking at life.
It’s how I think everyone starts their story. Without knowledge, and barely themselves. So all our life we are struggling to be who we are. Hence the imagery of a cell, our basic biological unit.
I’m not the happiest with the pencil lines, but at the same time I like the way it feels unfinished, like a life. So it’s doing right by me.
I have started to do more drawings in marker. Markers give me the force I need: Thick, bold lines that dig into the paper. Limited colours that give me the opportunity to be creative in another way. The feeling that ink gives me of permanency and no turning back. It is the perfect medium for depicting the “religious eye” that many of us know and feel even when there’s no one there.
Many Mauritians practice Indian classical dance (Kathak) forms, although I was never one of them. That wasn’t important in my family. However, you are influenced by it if you are what is known as “Indo-Mauritian” (ethnically from India, ancestors brought over during British colonialism). It’s a part of the larger culture.
While drawing, I considered the way the rhythm, melody, and dancer’s body must become one in any one of the complex dance forms. They’re considered to be very difficult to learn, and there is a constant struggle to make everything look flawless. I’ve heard “dance is worship” in dozens of Bollywood movies – I get it, I really do. Dance requires your absolute devotion and focus.
With such a link to the divine, I thought it fitting to represent the top of the dancer using a light bulb.
Certain models of the brain show that the human mind most likely has two or more sources from which thoughts are created. For example, some of us study the left and right sides of the brain, or the zones of the brain that perform specific tasks (frontal cortex vs Broca’s area, for example). These aren’t perfect models but they get us closer to understanding how our bodies help us to think.
I think it is very telling and natural that there are many cultural explanations as well for where thoughts come from. A very important one is the light/dark or yin/yang allegory. These speak of a “dark” and a “light” side to all people, to keep it simple, and finding equilibrium within that context is something we all share as people. We just call it by different names.
A lot of what I draw attempts to reconcile different areas of my mind, to accept all aspects of the self. Here the shadowy hand is reaching out to eat from the bowl of another world made up here of cleaner lines. It’s just one example of a work that expresses my desire to explore the mind – another thing shared by all people.
“The discerning and calculating gaze of another” is made obvious by its title. Need I say more? 🙂
One thing my doctor and I talked about when he was diagnosing me with ADHD was that when I was a kid, I saw faces in everything. I would always find two eyes and a nose, even inside the barely-visible strokes of paint on the wall. What a weird superpower.
Finding the face in things made me feel calm when I was in a stressful situation; something that happens to a kid pretty often. To my doctor, this was something of a sign that my brain was wired a little differently from others.
Today, I draw faces more than I see them. They still comfort me.