SARAH BEATTIE
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SAY SNEEZE SERIES
ARTIST STATEMENT

Consistently, my work deals with the incessantly complex relationship between painting and photography, making conspicuous references to the juxtaposition of the manual and the mechanical, and the present and past moment.

Say Sneeze (2012-) is an ongoing series of painted portraits that explores ambiguous facial expressions. These exaggerated faces are aesthetically reminiscent of the work of Australian sculptor Franz Messerschmidt, with a conceptual nod to Baldesarri’s Prima Facie (Third State): From Aghast to Upset (2005).

At first glance, each expression may communicate a different emotion to each viewer; relative to perception and pre-conception. The portraits, in actuality, reference photographs of individuals in a “pre-sneeze” state. The expressions are not evidence of emotion at all, but an uncontrollable expulsion of air; a bodily function which all beings are subject to. The abrupt act of a sneeze has been impulsively captured by the flash of a camera, highlighting the extreme contours of the face by heightening contrast.

By translating pixels into brushstrokes - from the screen to the canvas - the recorded moment oscillates between instantaneous and infinite. The paintings stand static in perpetual anticipation of a climax never to arrive.
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