114 Helen Johnson: Mother Painting
In the painting called mother painting, I was thinking about this sort of psychoanalytic concept of the dyad being a word used to describe this sort of relation between mother and child as this bound unit of two. There are quite a lot of psychoanalytic references in these paintings. They’ve been produced concurrently with my commencing and undergoing Lacanian psychoanalysis so that has really fed into my thinking and the sort of references that I’ve been loading into the paintings. And also this familial structure that connects them all.
So in this painting there are a lot of different layers of image and each layer stands for a particular binary. So if you look closely you can see there’s a fire being quenched by water. There are two figures in a bed and their hats, one says capital and one says labor, so this other relation. There’s a relation between the state and the populace, which is reference by an image that was illustrating part of the chartist uprising in the United Kingdom which was a really key moment of parliamentary reform in England. There’s also a mother/son binary where there’s an image of a man sort of sneaking into the pantry to steal all of the delicious food, the jam and honey and the sugar and treacle and a portrait of his mother sort of watching over him. You know, it’s ostensibly about food but really it’s about all sorts of other transgressions.
So I was interested in this painting in the way that these, you can brining all these binaries into play with one another and in that meeting the binary function completely dissolves. So the painting doesn’t apparently present you with a set of binaries at all, even though that’s what it’s constituted from. It presents something layered and complicated that keeps doing and suggesting and undoing itself and one another, each image. And sort of gazing back at you on all of these different registers.