July 22, 2022

My Great Grandfather’s Eye And I

Tim Paul Dixon

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Oil PaintingMy great-grandfathers eye and I, 202230 x 40 cms

Personal identity and circular gaze connect ancestry and creative process. Arthur Augustus Dixon (b.1872 – d.1959), was a renowned British painter and illustrator. Works include familiar titles such as; Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, Hugo’s Les’ Miserables and The Hunch Back of Notre Dame. Arthur specialised in figurative subjects and neo-pre-Raphaelites and his self portrait hung in the Royal Academy of Art before relocating to my childhood home, where it hangs today. My childhood ambition was to recreate Arthur’s self portrait with myself as the subject. I remember being fascinated by our family resemblance and my great-grandfather’s gaze, and I questioned what the colours, apple, wasp and jester’s hat represented. Searching for personal identity and connections, and with a genetic talent, I decided to learn to paint. Self portraiture, as an affirmation of identity has never been more popular. We consider personal identity as a modern trope; the ‘selfie’, profile picture and use of the gaze as a commodity, are constantly produced, scrutinised and considered, although largely transitory. Wider discussions concern the act of slow study, in sharp contrast to today’s often fleeting digital images of self, alongside themes of introspective value and circular gaze, enabling depth and meaning in art.