I'm very excited to announce my next artistic venture - I will be recreating Jean-Honore Fragonard's The Swing. This has been part of a project I've been planning for at least three years, each time I came close to starting something got in the way.
I first came across the painting in my youth, age 13 or so. I was actively researching Rococo art when I came across The Swing. What struck me was that I was captivated by this single moment in time and all its nuances effortlessly captured in the amount of details and textures. There was a whimsical sense of debauchery and a hidden narrative which made it so fascinating. I couldn't help but keep returning to it as the years passed, discovering something new about it every time.
This painting came in and out of my life quite often, in little coincidences and mentions throughout my teenage years. The most major of these probably being the utter shock of walking into a room and suddenly coming face to face with a physical presence, a magnificent reincarnation..
I stood breathless in front of it, feeling stunned at its boldness. It's not every day you see your favourite painting made into a lifesize real 3D form. I was 17 at the time, and already very emotionally connected with the painting through familiarity. It was one of those times additional information wasn't necessary, a piece that already spoke to your soul and was already a part of you.
I regularly visited the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery in Sydney, sometimes even weekly. The MCA was especially wonderful as it was so centrally located; you could pop in and enjoy the blissfully cool air conditioning and lavishly wander through one of the many galleries while you were waiting for friends to arrive, sometimes catching a curatorial talk. Seeing Shonibare's unique piece and existing in its physical space is a memory I will never forget.
As the years went on, I noticed many Baroque and Rococo elements becoming more prevalent in pop culture, (in my opinion) after the explosion of the film industry's long-reigning fairytale theme. It's great that our sense of fantasy often goes hand-in-hand with some kind of connected historic aesthetic like castles [historic architecture] or costumes [couture-finished finely detailed garments], or myth and legends [trolls, dragons, sea monsters]. It's inevitable then, that with more widespread information, and ever-advancing technology, we would reinvent and recreate things better than before. Direct parodies of Rococo art started emerging and spreading into the world of fashion and celebrities in a bid to replicate the unattainable perfection that these paintings possess.
On a brief holiday to the UK in 2013 I made sure that I would stop by the Wallace Collection in London and see The Swing in real life. It was another big moment, the feeling of being in its physical space was just exhilarating. Of course, nowhere online really mentions how small it is! That was my first impression. She was a rosebud amongst some foliage from a distance. It was hiding very cheekily in an upstairs gallery room. The entire museum was such a delight to explore, and it was such a treat to see the painting and its surroundings that day.