Fiona McGuigan | Figurative Fine Art | Seattle, WA.
MOMENT OF IMPACT
I use photographs of wrestlers to create paintings about movement. Stop-motion photography (like that originated by Eadweard Muybridge, one of my inspirations) can dissect the subtleties of movements, expose images imperceptible to the eye, but it’s only through painting that I can fully explore the combination of movement and emotions. By forcing the wrestlers into tight compositions, I focus in on body language, and on the strong emotions of dominance, sensuality and aggression that show in that split second when their bodies collide—the moment of impact.
For this series, I used images of wrestlers from my native Switzerland. They’re engaging in a style of folk wrestling known as Schwingen, played in a ring of sawdust and full of the throws and trips common to the sport. The fact that the wrestlers are particular to my culture should not distract—or inform—the viewer, but it’s an important reason why I paint them. I’m exploring nationalistic overtones, leaving clues about traditional clothing and colors, and researching a sport nearly unchanged for hundreds of years.
My technique is to apply 50 to 100 layers of paint to a surface, forming many images along the way. While I paint the wrestlers again and again, laying down these hundreds of layers, I consider: What is the emotional content of this interaction? What is the precise moment of impact? It’s an intense process of aesthetic and visceral decisions. I’m seeking the right emotion. I scratch an image into the paint, reject it, paint over it, expose it again, redraw it. Just a slight repositioning of one of the bodies can change an explosive image of bone-on-bone contact into an image of tenderness between the two competitors.