My Menagerie – Jan Stuut

Oct 19 – Nov 15

Artist statement

These paintings fool around with the concept of the menagerie – a historical term for a collection of exotic animals used for exhibition. The works aim to be both whimsical and slightly unsettling. My images focus on both how we construct an understanding of other creatures and on our shared origins and nature.

Seeing, and giving meaning to what we see, involves numerous personal and cultural lenses. The social context and our own make up determine what meaning we attribute to what we see. My images aim to invite a reflection on some of the ways we view animals.

My figures represent a synthesis of my observations and my impressions. The painting process involved preliminary drawing with diluted oil paint. I use a brush to create line and rags to erase and to smudge – as a way to give form. This opens a dialogue with the canvas, a way of refining my design ideas and clarifying my thinking.

My figures are imbued with human and animal qualities and give some insight into their psychological state. They also share the big existential questions to which I try to quietly allude. There are glimpses into their primal concerns and vulnerabilities.

I use traditional oil painting techniques, a high-keyed palette with numerous glazes to create a lustrous surface conveying a sense of luxury and the exotic and to capture a sense of theatre. I have also chosen a portrait format and close cropping of the image to generate a visual intensity and immediacy.

I have worked for many years as a Family Therapist with an interest in Humanistic Psychology. This approach to study of behaviour has an emphasis on feelings and emotions and development of a better understanding of the self through observation of oneself and relationships. My visual arts practice, particularly this current body of work draws on that interest and experience.

Jan Stuut 25th September 2008

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