Habitus – Gabrielle Fogg


Image: Gabrielle Fogg, Stephanie, 60 cm x 60cm, mixed media on panel, 2013

March 27th – 30th, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday March 27th,  7-9 pm
Artist talk: Thursday March 27th, 2pm

“Habitus”; a term taken from studies in Sociology, is defined as lifestyles, values, and expectation of particular social groups that are acquired through the activities and experiences of everyday life; a structure of the mind characterized by particular values, concepts, and sensibilities of certain social actors. It is the notion that we embody particular parts of other members of different social structures that are reproduced through tastes, preferences, and actions in ourselves. This is relevant to my body of thesis works in the way that the Habitus, how we respond to social stimulus, is a manifestation of many influences on a person. My paintings represent a visual response to those influences from certain people that help form my Habitus.

I chose to do portraits of the people who influence my Habitus, and one self-portrait painted in collaboration with the help of the individuals included in my paintings. My aim was to have the process relate to the subjects of the works as well as reflect change and influence as an aspect of relationship. I chose to integrate several different processes to allow opportunity for variety in depictions of the subjects I have chosen to work with. This body of works typically begins with various techniques of abstract painting using acrylic or spray paint. The portrait element of each painting is derived from both photographs as well as from a live sitter. I use washes, undiluted paint application and slightly thicker paint application and a variety of tools achieve a dense layering of abstract painting that intermingles with the portrait. Choices of medium, colour, techniques in painting, images, and other aspects of the work have been picked at my discretion to reflect certain aspects of the subject of each work respectively.   I attempt to form tensions between the different layers in the pieces, resulting in greater depth in each painting. I use images through collage and photo-transfer that reference certain aspects that I have interpreted from the subjects’ personalities. I chose to make the images not so deliberately referential to the person or their likes, dislikes, or personality traits. I meant here, to mimic semantic threads in human thought/memory. All the images I choose to integrate within the portrait are related to the subjects, but the connection will not always be apparent to the viewer without explanation, and some elements will remain an intimacy shared only between myself and the individual in the portrait.

How people interact with each other and form relationships is at the core of my investigation in Habitus. How we organize and whom we choose to share our experiences with has great influences on our own actions and how we develop as individuals. Relationships and influence between two or a few people are constantly in flux. My process of constantly editing the portraits over time comments on these ever changing factors in relationship, and how they influence and “edit” a person. I aim to express, in a responsive and visual way, my understandings of the relationships that affect me most, my family and friends. Influence is a key element in the production of this body of works as the process of painting itself is developed as a form of Habitus. The spaces, especially the studio, its textures, colours and built up surfaces, I am working in and images I keep around me heavily influence the final outcome of each painting in an almost subliminal manner.

Through this body of work I want to challenge the typical preciousness of portraiture; I want to make the process of creating a portrait intuitive and experimental. In my paintings, I didn’t want the figure to sit isolated in the center of the piece, but rather interacting with the space around it through the collaged images, or abstract markings.  This interaction between the subject and the entire painting is extended by involving the subjects of the portraits in painting a collaborative portrait of myself; this deliberately embodies concepts of social influence in the Habitus as an exchange. My aim is for the audience to connect with the works, and understand them as a reflection on change, emotion, and experience created through interaction with others.