self portrait, graphite, 2001
"I am constantly struggling to build up enough work for an exhibition. I work on a relatively small scale, so I need quite a number of paintings to fill a show. Unfortunately, I rarely find the time between commissions to further the cause."
There is a strong fantasy element to PLAYERís work. He uses symbolism, puns, and surprise elements to break out of the norm and make the viewer rethink the world. Few paintings escape without something macabre or strange creeping in.
"When I am asked to paint something more straightforward - a fantasy, but sexual rather than mental - I enjoy it just as much. It allows me to play with the character, to choose a body type, a face and expression to solidify the character, then to dress him in the right clothes, give him the right length of beard, the perfect level of sweat to ground him in the situation. Additionally, the use of perspective, light, and environment all reinforce the sexual charge."
The process is like directing a film. He casts and costumes the actors, builds and lights the set, creates the narrative, directs the performance, then chooses the perfect time when the action is at its peak to capture the moment. Unlike a movie director, however, PLAYER has but milliseconds to communicate the whole scenario.
There are several recurring characters in PLAYERís work. The Skinhead usually represents the brutal, bestial side of masculinity. "I find the Skinheadís look utterly male. Boots, braces, shaved heads, polo shirts and jeans have no affectation or prissiness whatsoever."
PLAYER also includes everyday characteristics such as male-pattern baldness, scars, crooked or broken teeth, bruises, jug-ears, and tattoos which suggest an unselfconscious masculinity. Dwarfism is another anomaly he favors, sometimes combined with the skinhead aesthetic. They are usually depicted as knowing, intuitive, confident, and very sexually potent. "Dwarves are a fixation of mine. I am intrigued by their anatomy, scale, proportions, and stubbiness."
Other recurring characters are religious "demons and angels" from Heaven and Hell, and everywhere in between!" PLAYER says. "Innocence and corruption are usually less predictable than what one would expect," he adds.
Many patrons request specific elements in the paintings they commission, such as personal fantasies or fetishes that appeal to them. "Iím never judgmental or shocked by what my clients ask for," PLAYER explains. "References and symbols taken from the clientís life only serve to further personalize the image for me."
"With commissions," PLAYER continues, "I communicate with the client via e-mail or telephone to ascertain what they require, to be sure we are thinking along the same lines. Then through the e-mailing or faxing of sketches, making corrections or adjustments along the way, we arrive at a satisfactory result. Itís a strangely bonding experience, as you communicate on a very intimate level with someone you often donít see or hear directly through the whole process, let alone meet in person. This allows me to tumble the concept around in my head and find the essential sexual response I need to create an erotic image."
PLAYER also works from life when it is a practical option for both painter and patron. Commissions have definitely influenced the direction of his work, both through the choice of medium and subject matter. "Commissions widen my personal boundaries. Iíve been asked to eroticize things that I previously found completely unerotic," he reveals. "I often find myself empathizing with the clientís perspective, and sometimes, even sharing it."
PLAYER was born in England in 1965, and received a degree in London in 1987. He currently lives and works in California.
One man exhibition in the London Lesbian and Gay Centre. 1989
First Prize- Abbey Gallery Open Competition 1992
Second Prize- Broekman Open Competition 1992
First Prize- Broekman Open Competition 1993
Exhibition at Adonis Art Gallery, London. 1998
Exhibition at Gallery Ho-EnSeven, Arkel, Holland 1999
Exhibition at Villa Lila, Nijmegen Holland, 1999
Exhibition at Mr.B, Amsterdam, Holland, 2000