The idylls of human anatomy portrayed by the great Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were perhaps the progenitors of mannequin design.
Their idyllic forms in painting and particularly sculpture encapsulated the notion of perfect proportion, skin and other desirables.
However, even super-models get pimples and other human traits like growing older. Super-models can even appear a bit freakish in real life as most of the population are much shorter, older, younger, fatter and/or wonderfully imperfect.
Curiously, I’ve spent years photographing store mannequins in a wide variety of places and the series of mannequin paintings presented here reflect my intrigue with them endeavour to capture their allure and imperfect perfection.
I have a few old mannequins which I enjoy dressing up for certain occasions. For instance, at an Indian family night they each wore a colourful sari and for a French Petite Dejuener they wore Parisian-like dresses, berets and other accessories.
As a painter and photographer, it is very handy to have these mannequins but there is also something a bit spooky about them which is interesting. Many stores now use headless mannequins or boring characterless ones. What a disgrace! Michelangelo would surely be horrified.
It seems a pity to see the art of window-dressing disappear from many department stores. However, some relatively new styles of mannequins have emerged to suit corporative values including Asian and African American reproductions. The sensitive new-age male versions also appear popular but are usually white and annoyingly “Good-boy” perfect. My mannequin paintings are not sentimentalised but simply reflect some of my own perceptions of the way mannequins carry a curious blend of human, idealised, corporate, and theatrical aspects that appeal on a number of levels.
I haven’t finished painting or photographing mannequins and some of my earlier exhibitions were narratives on female accessories like “The Red Shoes” and other works. I hope one day to do a huge mannequin show with a both paintings and photographs in a major city
Poem for Mannequins
The black stallion’s heart is dual sided
As the spider says welcome my dear
Let me treat your wounds with my smoke and fire
I will whisper the words that you want to hear
And hold you inside my shaman arms
I am a spider-magician
But for an instant she glimpsed the stallion’s eye
His Magritte mirror now broken its spell
She watches the world outside from within
Wearing cloaks of protective shell
As he stands in her silent window frame
I am a plastic enigma
For the black stallions heart is bi-folding
And a mannequin feels no pain
The illusive connection of feeling misplaced
Is forged by emotionless strain
Only her vacant blue eyes know no tears
I am the black stallion
Her face has become a hardened screen
She begs to be mesmerised
Whilst the illusionist’s bag of dormant souls
Are waiting to be realised
And in the moon of nines she reinvents herself
I am a mannequin