John Armstrong

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Vacations, Cleaning

From 1989 on, my small oil paintings depicted men and women in traditional gender roles. The canvases were often divided into two panels, one side containing a rubber-gloved woman’s hand involved in household cleaning, and the other side containing men and women engaged in various leisure activities, such as holiday making. The depiction of vacation culture — sailing, the beach, fishing — is a well-established genre in Western art from Impressionism on. Although the precedent may be Impressionism, these paintings more immediately based on magazine illustrations of the 1950s and 60s. I attempted to paint in a number of styles that might evoke not only recent art history but also techniques that might have been used by commercial artists. Advertising and marketing was further emphasized by the inclusion of product names (lingerie or marine outboard motor manufacturers, to name two). The product names appeared in their characteristic typeface, but were truncated to create a first name: for example, Kent cigarettes appears as Ken or Evinrude Motors as Evan. If the product name was already a first name, as in the case of the lingerie manufacturers Lou or Celia, they would appear in their entirety. As in the previous series, there is a strong element of play involved in both the purposeful free association of visual elements and in the careful manufacture of the painted surfaces.

oil on linen, 40 x 50 cm