September 18, 2021

Is There an “Enemy”?

John Sillince

AcrylicIs There an “Enemy”?, 2021594 x 841

The painting is inspired by the film: The Lives Of Others, and the compassion I felt for the East German policeman who was tasked to spy on a dissident writer but who began to identify with the writer’s values. That policeman’s identification with “the enemy” shows that bridges can be built between opposed camps. I visually express bridge-building by means of the seeping of smiles, friendly architecture, soft edges and warm colours, from the dissident’s evening party into the suspicious scowls, expressionist perspective, hard edges and dark, cold monochrome of the policeman’s world. I began with the question, can a complex temporal process (a policeman’s slow sympathetic identification with his target) be satisfactorily represented in a non-temporal medium such as a painting? The more you look at the painting, then the more likely you are to be moved. You feel the policeman’s acknowledgement of empathic similarity with his target. So painting can have a temporal dimension. This challenges moving images as sole representations of processes and valorises painting as a contemplative medium. The painting communicates on multiple levels because it connects conflicting communities, and expresses diachronic narrative through synchronic colour and form.