The cutaneous and kinaesthetic exploration of Kam’s body is perhaps a nod to the sculptor’s hands in the story of Pygmalion and Galatea. This project is a progression from Kamlan Munsamy 2, studies and Collaborator Kam.
Using paint, the exploration of his two main pre-occupations: his worry about how others see him, and his innate Narcissism, is an opportunity to create something viscerally engaging. Continues below gallery…
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The “non-tabula-rasa” nature of the artist, model and the artist-model relationship hinges around the artist being white/western/Christian-valued, and the model being Indian/African/Hindu. Not all of these characteristics are visible from the work, but those that are trigger critical scrutiny by the viewer. What does feed the work though, is his less inhibited attitude towards touch between men.
In response to his concern about how others see him, I painted his back only – thus he was unable to see the parts that many other people see. The front and back were separated, emulating how a massage session is structured. When your back is being worked on, the only sense available to provide feedback is touch.
Further, the areas which he could partly see – the sides – were cut as separate panels, akin to a tailor’s pattern.
The front image has suggestions of Egon Schiele’s self-portraits, drawn using mirrors to see his back/rear-quarter view.
Setting out the parts which he cannot normally see, which are seen by others, for him to look at and inspect, in the manner of Narcissus looking at his reflection in the pool, seemed to encapsulate both of Kam’s pre-occupations. Here, the back does not reciprocate the attempted enticement of the front, much as Narcissus’ reflection did not requite his attempts at tactile engagement. In a sense, he is staring at his “other”.
The visual gaze is being played with. The front of Kam is staring at his back. Being life-size at floor level, we can go to Kam’s side to see what he is looking at so intently. And there before us, we see the terrain of his back with all the traces and evidence of the graphic exploration.
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