|Image detail- Anne Flynn|
I am interested in the relationship between image and meaning, especially images that arise in dreams, imagination and fantasy. As a product of psyche, these images have multiple valences that arise both from personal history and from the collective through culture. My painting is about my process as these images arise and engage me. I do not start with a specific intention. Instead I allow the unconscious meaning to meet me in the work and express itself. It is often many months before the meaning of the piece becomes clear.
For the Crop Circle project, I was given cupcakes from the local market as a focal point . As I began engaging the image of the cupcake I found myself thinking about what a cupcake might represent apart from its literal existence as a confection. What might cupcake conjure up in the poetic world of our psyche?
Marcel Proust very famously used the idea of the taste of a small cake in evoking the themes of of memory and nostalgia in his extended reverie "Remembrance of Things Past" when he wrote:
"Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines", which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean How could I seize and apprehend it?
For Proust, the madeleine was an image invoking involuntary memory. How would I apprehend the cupcake?
|Gone But Not Forgotten- Cupcake Parchment,Plexi, and Wood- Anne Flynn|
The first painting that came out of this process was a straight image of the objects, or was it? Perhaps it was the sheer giddy indulgence I felt when I ate one that prompted me to think of the analogy to the feeling of first love. The second painting was "The Garden of Eden", in which the cupcake started to represent something about temptation, and at the same time the regressive pull into the blissful state of merger before consciousness. Next, the cupcake dress appeared, which seemed to be addressing ideas about femininity. This lead to the series of ufo cupcakes, at which point I found myself thinking about the wonder of looking at such a familiar object anew, without any preconceived ideas. Next came the monoprints with the biological forms drawn into the paper cups, and finally the piece entitled "Gone But Not Forgotten" in which many brown empty cupcake cups are coiled into a pine box encased with a transparent lid.
For the nine weeks since inception of this project, the cupcake was alive and generative as an image, rich in potential meanings for me. As with any other process, it had a life of its own that is reflected in the progression of the work. Engaging with it expanded my understanding not only of cupcakes but of the unfolding creative process itself.