ANDRIES GOUWS
ABOUT MY NEW PAINTINGS - MY FEET PAINTINGS
2008

For many years I painted still lifes and interiors, with the human figure practically absent. After my travelling exhibition Hiding behind simple things (2006-2007), I felt a need for something different. Perhaps I had exhausted these themes, or perhaps what I was doing had been verbalised and defined to death by myself and others in the catalogue texts, interviews and reviews around this exhibition: too many "unnecessary stains upon silence".

After I had observed some friends' feet intently for a number of years, feet started clamouring to be my next subject. I started painting feet in May 2007.

As I paint them they sometimes seem intensely personal, intensely naked  as vulnerable and private as bare breasts, so much so that I find looking at them embarrassing. At other times they exude a raw, animal power - more than a match for my gaze.

I am intrigued that in my paintings the feet, which are almost like portraits, are nevertheless of indeterminate gender. (Do feet have a gender? Or only their bearer?)

My paintings of feet do not have the meditative quality of my interiors or still lifes, possibly because the feet unnerve me - an appropriate response.

In adding my paintings to a long tradition of painted feet, I take solace in Samuel Beckett's words: "Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better."

Click here for my previous artist's statement (2006)