Kasia Andrews celebrates difference. By focusing on details, she highlights the individual. She explains more to ArtsCulture
What is it about the face and the figure that attracts you?
I find the face and figure endlessly fascinating because every person is different.
I often notice the smallest aspect of someone’s face or body and that will make me want to paint them, it can be as simple as the way their neck looks from a certain angle or even the forms in the flecks in their eye.
Your work on disability, working with Kevin French, won at the Sue Ryder Care Art Liberating Lives exhibition. You said you wanted ‘to help dispel the uneasiness often evoked by an abnormal body by proving that ‘different’ can be as beautiful as ‘normal’.’
How successful do you think you have been, how is this is a progression of you earlier work, the diptychs of the twins for example?
I feel the paintings I did of Kevin were really successful, people have commented on the fact that his disability was not really noticeable in the paintings and this was intentional because I didn’t want the paintings to be of his disability, but of his ability to look as attractive as any other model.
So really the paintings were about looking past his disability, a thing that some people find difficult to do.
I feel my work has progressed in a number of ways since I did the twins series, but most noticeable is the development of my painting skills, I still can’t believe I only started painting in 2004!
As for my subject matter I would like to work more with the type of people who are not considered model material, I would especially like to work with people with facial disfigurement, by painting a face with a disfigurement I hope it will allow the viewer time to get over any adverse reactions and start to see the beauty that can be found in every face.
As you focus on the figure and the face, how important is the model to your work?
The model is very important in my work; they often dictate the pose I choose without even knowing it. I have often gone into the studio with a specific idea of a pose only to change it the more I get to know the person. This happened with Kevin actually, as he moved I just saw more and more striking forms, he is by far one of the best models I have ever worked with and I have plans to work with him again in the future.
You use black and white in your work. Why the preference for this style, and will you develop a colourpalate, maybe along the lines of Caravaggio?
Before starting my degree I enjoyed drawing people and loved black and white photography, so when I was asked to paint something I felt it was a natural progression to paint in black and white. I was also inspired by the early black and white paintings by Chuck Close.
I have often considered painting in colour but currently still feel I have more to learn and further to go with the black and white palette. If I were to work in colour it would certainly be in the muted colour style of Caravaggio, I have already been inspired by his use of strong directional light and intense shadow.
There’s something contemplative about paintings, can they still thrill, shock and excite while being still moments in a moving world?
Yes, I believe paintings can evoke all these emotions and many more, a good example would be the work of Francis Bacon, he managed to capture moments of raw emotion and movement that are extremely believable. The world we live in is so fast moving that some moments can almost pass us by unnoticed, paintings enable us to stop and reflect.
Find out more about Kasia Andrews on her website: www.kasiaandrews.co.uk
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