Beg-- July 2009
Laura Francis, Beg (self-portrait), oil on canvas, 36" x 60", 2009
Artist statement for Beg
The launching concept behind Beg is a metaphor for the contemporary artist as a reluctant beggar of modern society. We beg for an audience and we beg for patronage, two elements that "prove" the legitimacy of an artist. The most direct way of describing this is through the theme of self-portrait. As a self-portrait, the message is most poignant for the subject places herself in this role. This painting also references another common genre in art history--woman as object for the voyeuristic viewer. A standard representation would be a reclining nude, serenely gazing off into the distance and openly sharing her body with the viewer. Beg acts as a parody of this theme. The woman in Beg, while feminine, is not particularly sexual or available. Her legs are crossed, her arms are compactly by her sides, and her expression uninviting. She does not look at the viewer because she does not welcome his gaze and is overtly uncomfortable in this role. The last irony of Beg is that this image is not a performance but a painting in a gallery, asking for the exact things -- audience and patronage -- which its commentary seeks to defy.