Most of the time when I start pushing paint around with an incomplete idea, nothing worth showing happens. But in this case, the freedom from my usual structure worked in my favor and I came out with something I am very pleased with. I started out with the desire to do a figure of gold. I am a big fan of editorial fashion photography, and had several inspirational references around the easel that I wanted to draw from.
I had an ochre toned board from a previous demo and just began making shapes, thinking it would be a short discovery exercise but then a few hours hours later, realized I could see where I wanted this to go.I began thinking about the themes of youth and beauty being idolized and the eternal struggle to maintain or retrieve something fleeting and superficial. I added decoration and started pushing the figure toward something ornate and rich, but maybe a little cold and unattainable.
Although Asian features of my figure were simply the result of making shapes and keeping the ones I liked, quite by coincidence (or synchronicity) while working on this I listened to a Moth podcast about how South Korea is obsessed with beauty. It has the highest rate of plastic surgery of any other country. Some all-girl high schools have mirrors and scales that they are encouraged to use frequently and people often have to attach photos to resumes. It was a country obsessed in a way that shocked me. As an American, one of the few things I thought we did best was mess up culture of self-image for our youth, but apparently in a desire to become more Western, South Korea has surpassed us on even that.