Surge explores the emergence of early adulthood and the impending arrival of awareness and sexuality. Examining race and gender roles, Surge investigates Western culture’s impact upon the notion of love between men and women, and same sex relationships. These series of portraits investigate gender roles and the perceived blurring aggression of men and tender sexuality of women, a young girl’s turbulent transience to womanhood and having to confront the male gaze.
From subjects of Vermeer and Renaissance artists to backyard theaters, perpetual male wrestling rituals declare bravado in forged struggles towards manhood, farcically masking the inadequacy of their relations to fulfill the desire to show sentiment. Amidst the operatic chaos they remain unsure of themselves and of what is expected of them.
The viewer becomes complicit as observer in the constantly evolving feeling of struggle, as the adolescent girls climb over each other in order to be first, yet what they strive for remains unseen. They too are unsure of their journey, only that they must make it, yet at the same time they cling together, reluctant to let go.
As Darwin noted that even “the lowest savage” is seduced by beauty in the glittering and curious, opulent arrangements bearing tokens of lust and death navigate the tensions between the imagery, bridging the flux between turmoil and quietude. The still lifes posit themselves as mement mori, traditionally objects used to display wealth, education, success alongside skulls or other reminders of death. The objects in Surge were chosen for their initial beauty: the apple alludes to the temptation of Eve, lust and desire whilst the taxidermy hare (a Renaissance symbol of sex and fertility) reminds us of our ultimate end.
Surge posits captured subjects in a darkened cave, surging forward amidst transitional tensions, connected through their uncertainty. Contrasting portraits present the next stage and a glimpse of certainty, as the still life concludes the work by representing the cyclical, inevitable nature of life as it slowly revolves.