The Rake’s Progress: Luping in Australia
My research is based on the depiction of myself as an immigrant. Relating to my new surroundings, from an immigrant’s perspective, these paintings interrogate my relationship to the Australian environment and culture. They also reflect the unavoidable clash of cultural values intrinsic to immigration. The title I have chosen for the individual project is “The Rake’s Progress: Luping in Australia”. I have developed my ideas through a series of 8 paintings that explore my experiences in immigrating to Australia. The medium is oil on canvas, Size: 750 x 600 mm. My research desires to explore the differences between cultural and social perspectives between China and Australia. I have attempted to create works that allow the Chinese techniques of painting (learnt in China) to become transformed and altered through my exposure to western techniques and culture. Central to my research is to explore whether figurative painting can provide an appropriate contemporary means of investigating immigration and cultural frisson. It also brings into question my relationship with my new surroundings establishing a visual dialogue between notions of isolation versus participation within Australian culture. Formally, my compositions encourage the viewer to consider the relation between myself (isolated as an immigrant), and my relation to Australian society. As a structural model for my enquiry I have appropriated some aspects of “The Rake’s Progress” series by the 18th Century artist William Hogarth and the 20th Century artist David Hockney. These narrative works depict the experiences of a person in new geographical and social circumstances. I have exploited Hogarth’s eight panel format to develop my studio project. I use a first-person perspective to situate myself in the context of Queensland (both city and country). My working methodology combines diverse resource material, from landscape studies, popular imagery to biographical information. I am also interested in the idea of conflicting moralities in our modern world. In China there is much attention paid to aspects of public morality, and large paintings are often commissioned to illustrate these points to people in society. If a person is too focused on his or her own self experience, then this is considered improper and self-indulgent. Hockney, however was concerned with his own personal evolution as an individual and this is for me a refreshing aspect of his Rake’s Progress. I have sought to replicate this in my own series of paintings. In my first rack’s progress painting I show myself at Tian An Men square. The context of Tian An Men square represents the Chinese governments political desire to play a dominant role in the contemporary world, a symbol of power and supposed ‘revolution’. However, my concept of ‘revolution’ here is at odds with the Chinese ideology. For myself revolution is a personal process of inward evolution, a renewal like the sun rising.