"Bullseye" (1999):


In Bullseye, the image of the target is used as a focal point in all the paintings. The target sucks our attention into its centre. There is an optical push and pull of the opposing black and white. We lose our footing and start to spin. We want to take aim and shoot at its centre, be it with arrows, darts, emotions, or...even our wives.

Echoing the pulsating struggle of black and white in the target, there is a dynamic swing between humour and tragedy in my paintings. Representational imagery and abstraction also play off each other, as do reality and fiction, traditional oil painting and illustrative graffiti, and image and word. I have explored different ways in which the target can function – as a symbol of cyclical time, as a tempter of suicide and murder, and purely as a visual device.

I paint images that refer to historical works and subject matter. Hunting scenes, still life and landscape paintings, and mythological subjects are brought into a contemporary context by overlapping cartoon images onto a more traditional base. As in television, there is an excess of information and a confusion of kitsch and colour, stereotypes, and glossed-over violence.

There are no heroes here. The characters I paint are faceless representations of ordinary people stuck in tragic situations: a man bobbing in an oceanic gravesite with his rubber ducky; a wife being catapulted into a farmer's field. We do not connect directly with these characters, but there is something unnerving and familiar about their situations.

Are these maniacal sagas based on actual happenings, or are they figments of an imagination? They are meant to be laughed at, as well as being food for thought, bringing up issues of domestic violence, loss of identity, and human relationships with the environment.

Like children's nightmares – monsters under the bed – the paintings grab the viewer by the foot when they least expect it. They are eye-candy with a hint of acid.

all content © Lisa Birke 2015