Artist Paul Richmond challenges views on masculinity and the male form in his new series, War Paint.
When you hear the words “war paint”, you probably think of Braveheart, warriors and tribes of the past coloring themselves to declare their loyalty and intimidate their enemies. Or maybe you think of modern camoflage, what soldiers and hunters wear into battle to make their faces invisible.
Paul Richmond has taken the concept and reimagined it in a series of stunning pieces in which, “the modern masculine form becomes the canvas, a painted object of his own creation. This work also challenges conventions around masculinity and the male form. By deconstructing and rebuilding the figure, my goal is to invite understandings that reach beyond the immediate surface and reveal the complexity of the individual.”
There is no one definition of masculinity. What it is, what it encompasses, and what it can be are part of an ever-evolving conversation, and Paul Richmond’s work is a striking visual representation of all of these questions. The viewer is invited consider not only what the men are wearing, but why.
I asked Paul about the War Paint series, and his answers add to the complexity of the images.
1. What inspired you to create the War Paint series?
I created War Paint because I was interested in exploring the concept of identity – how we construct our sense of self and choose to reveal it to others. As a young gay man, I grew up feeling inadequate by the standards of masculinity that were presented to me. War Paint is about ignoring the status quo and boldly wearing the colors that represent who we are and how we relate to the world around us.
2. What was the most memorable part in creating or showing it?
War Paint was a departure in style for me. It was a little scary at first to be honest. Previously, my work was more realistic with smoother brushstrokes. I knew I wanted to take a risk and make a bold statement with these paintings so I had to approach them differently. Rather than sketching out the poses first, I began each canvas by applying abstract strokes of color with the palette knife. Then the figure would slowly begin to emerge out of the chaos. I liked how this technique helped me focus on the concept and mood of each piece rather than simply rendering details.
3. Beyond what’s in your statement, what do you hope people will take away from seeing your work?
More of Paul Richmond’s art can be seen at PaulRichmondStudio.com.
Find out more about his work at Paul Richmond’s Tumblr.
All images used with permission of the artist.