Monday, October 21, 2013

Antipodean Beauties - Avant Garde

This is actually last Monday's theme, but I like to think I made up for my lateness in quality of effort. I was pretty damn excited by the theme for this week - I love avant garde art, and I was determined to try and do something out of my comfort zone, beyond what I would normally assume I am capable of. Avant garde is all about pushing boundaries after all!

I was a little torn as to what exactly to do for this challenge, until I was lucky enough to see Dave McKean's very avant garde performance Nine Lives at the Opera House as part of the Graphic festival. I've been a fan of Dave McKean's artworks since I first saw them on the cover of The Sandman, probably my favourite graphic novel series of all time. I find his obsession with tactile textures, uneven surfaces, shapes that aren't quite right, and images that aren't quite there endlessly fascinating, and in a lot of ways I wish my paintings were more like his.

Nine Lives was very...well, avant garde. It was an odd mix of spoken word, music, animations made with his paintings, songs, and short films all written and largely performed by David McKean. He had a small horn and violin section backing him up while he played piano, but it was very much HIS show. The thing about experimental performances is that they tend to either pull it off and make something magical you'll never see anywhere else, or they fall flat on their face: while parts of Nine Stories fell a little flat, on the whole I'd say it definitely came down on the side of success. The Momus Report has a lovely little interview with McKean about it, if you're interested in knowing more.

The long and short of it is that I came out all inspired, and excited, and determined to use this theme to try and recreate one of McKean's paintings with makeup. After much deliberation, I settled on this Sandman cover, because it looked the most...well, possible. Without prosthetics or a mask, that is.

I opened up all my makeup drawers, and got to work. And this is what I came up with.

Not perfect, but I think I did okay. I used ELF gel eyeliner in Coffee for all the dark brown areas, and then attempted highlighting using Pretty Serious Cosmetics loose eyeshadow in Morning Java, and Femme Fatale loose eyeshadow in Time Lost.

Probably the biggest lesson learned is one I feel a bit silly for not remembering at the time - straight lines drawn on a curved surface don't actually come out looking straight. In order to make the lines around the mouth appear straight, like in the original, I should have done the lines curved slightly upwards. But ce la vie, we live and we learn.

I wasm't 100 per cent happy with this as a tribute to Dave McKean, so I went to work with my Photoshop skills and came up with these, which I think are a much more accurate reflection of his style.

So, does this count as avante garde?


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