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-Self Trade-


Self Trade. 2018.

By Cindy Ayim.

Acrylic on canvas.

60 x 39.6 cm

Just as an artist paints a self-portrait after painting everything else, I am concluding my 10-day teaser reviews with a painting of mine- Self trade.

The first striking element of Self Trade is the redness of it, which together with the shades of brown, creates a tense uneasy atmosphere. Then you notice a woman covered, feet to torso, by a piece of fabric, with her arm outstretched towards a man. He is clad in black, with his hand under his chin. Is he being dismissive of her or in a reflective mood? Is he staring at the lamp or completely lost in thought? I will let you in on a little secret- there is a doorway behind the shelf created by the shadow it casts on the wall.

I usually get asked a lot of ‘why’s about this painting- Why is the woman on the floor? Why is the man looking away? – my favourite one- why is it called ‘Self trade’? All these questions seek to unveil the story that the painting holds.

The process of painting is very much like travelling- moving from one point to another. With some paintings, you know exactly where you are going and how you will get there. Others on the other hand take you on a journey through unfamiliar terrain with no map or compass, forcing you to blindly navigating your way through.

Self Trade was interesting to create because although I knew instantly what the composition would look like, the story behind it evolved so many times during the process. I realized a painting, in effect, paints itself; the artist is merely an active witness and must not interrupt this process with prejudices of his/her own. 

Originally these two figures were only metaphors. The woman represented us while the man was our fears personified. For some reason, we tend to reach out for and embrace our fears.  Lying down helplessly, we allow ourselves to be weighed down by a piece of cloth that in our minds possesses more strength than gravity. We trade ourselves to our fears time and time again until this becomes the only way we know how to live. Ironically, as is mostly the case, we can get up and walk out if we allow ourselves to.

Although I am the artist behind this, I leave more questions than answers. This is because a painting is never complete when I put my brush down; it continues to be painted in the minds of those who see it. The other different interpretations of the painting are truly yours to make. Our lives craft lenses through which we view art and interpret it in a way that is unique and true to us.

 Art by Cindy


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