30cms (W) x 24cms (H)
Oil on Panel
It's fair to say the selfie culture in China is going from strength to strength. I know many people (mainly female) who will post photos of themselves online on an almost daily basis. Some use apps to change their appearance, others use clothing hair and make-up.
This was the first character study I did and I chose a friend who had an extraordinary ability to look almost completely different between photos, and seemed to understand how to manipulate her own external appearance to suit what image she needed to portray. At the same time, I'd say she didn't have the same awareness of her own mind, who she is, wants to be, likes and dislikes. She wasn't wealthy (the pink background is a broken up cardboard shoe box) but had an enormous collection of lipsticks and products, so I chose to do something that was part linked to selfie culture, part shelfie culture (which is where people post photos of their bathroom cabinet to express some aspect of their personality).
When I came to China I was imbued with a western view that 'it doesn't matter what you are on the outside, it's what's inside that counts' and that you should strive to fully understand yourself, but found an environment where there's a much higher premium on the surface and relationships, for which people will sacrifice internal certainty and peace. I love thinking about this topic as there are social, political, theological, philosophical, medical and economic aspects to it, and it's difficult to capture most of that in a single image, so in this painting I just wanted to hint at the role of physical externality for this person.