This work concentrates on the examination of common objects and how those objects represent and or symbolize ideas, and their possible metaphoric implications. Often referred to as “ropography”; or a depiction of things which lack importance; the everyday objects of life or those objects we take for granted. The paintings focus on personal possessions that I find curiously engaging. Sometimes I employ objects that ear mark religious or supernatural characters such as divining rods, masks, or spiritual fetish articles. The work may result in objects contextually placed in a still life setting or more ambiguous spaces. Although, my primary concern is with the metaphors that these objects present by themselves, I am aware that the images presented in a simple juxtaposition of two or more objects express more complex meanings. Ultimately, I would like the viewer to draw their own conclusions.
Common Still life painting that was popular in the 17th century Dutch and Flemish often contained hidden allegories such as the Christian Passion, Resurrection or the transience of things in life. They were little paintings with big ideas. Some of the paintings during this time that concerned themselves with life, death and transient events between were often referred to as “Vanitas” paintings. Not in the sense of vainness or conceit; “vanitas” a Latin term used to describe a notion of evanescence of earthly possessions and the life linked to the work. The meanings in these paintings were conveyed by the use of objects, mostly familiar and everyday items and were given a symbolic connotation.
The paintings here are similar in the sense that they isolate a particular object or group of objects containing a history of symbolic references. Within the body of my work, historical reference and symbolic references are typically ignored and the object is valued for purely personal reasons. The result often has an element of cognitive dissonance if not absurdity to the reasons behind it's selection. I find the confusion intriguing.
As a whole, the work represents visual metaphors that emerge from the examination of common objects and how they relate to an “intimate” human condition. Mine mostly. They are metaphors for identity, self-preservation, and mortality. By focusing on insignificant objects I feel they often illustrate significance to more grand ideas. Their significance pertains to our addiction to possessions and our obsession with self-preservation. Most of the objects have personal and deep sentimental feelings attached to them. In the end, the works are painted notes to myself about objects within my daily routines and the only way I can read that note is to paint it.
PJ Mills, 2018