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EXCERPT FROM ROBYN COOK’S REVIEW OF PAUL PAINTING:ETCHINGS AT THE KZNSA
“On the upper mezzanine, Paul Painting’s etchings were more engaging. The small-scale, neat collection of images appeared to be from Ma Baker’s personal scrapbook. Infamous Reggie Kray, a pair of buff wrestlers, a group of eerie Vaudevillians and a couple scantily clad in ’70s swimwear sit side by side. The images are dark and spine-chilling. Painting leaves it up to the audience to make connections between the characters. Is that Reggie’s Mom and Pop? Did Reggie have a French bulldog called Barthez? A recurring Godzilla character pops its head up at odd places, perhaps a manifestation of the ‘monster’ within. The images are darkly humorous. At once a satire and a set of eerie tragicomic possible narratives. â€¨â€¨And damn, I can’t seem to get Reggie’s mug shot out of my mind.”
Alexandra Spyratos was born in Kenya where she lives most of her life surrounded by the exotic beauty and wilderness of Africa. Based between ByronBay (Australia) and Malindi (Kenya), Alexandra has made two tranquil corners of the world her base, painting in her studios for exhibitions worldwide.
Thematically my work has invariably returned to an intensely personal series of responses : central themes include the nature of duality , the complexities of guilt , memory and desire , and the allure of the macabre , the mysterious and the forbidden . The persistence of these themes is allied to a preoccupation with the fringe , with alienation and feelings of dislocation and uncertainty , the paradoxical lure and repulsion of assimilation and integration . At its rawest my work probably stems from these agitated psychological states , and the outsider figure crops up persistently , often in the shape of misfits , criminals and anthropomorphized beings .
My imagery is drawn largely from stocks of my own photographs , cinema, and open source reference such as the internet and encyclopedias . My current work reflects to some degree an attempt at an exhaustive overhauling of banks of imagery that I have obsessively hoarded over the years , ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous . An attraction toward the grotesque and enigmatic qualifies the work , and reflects a series of personalized and equivocal responses to the ghosts of memory and desire (in all their ambiguities) , notions of individuality and alienation , and a penchant for the offbeat and grotesque . Their dark and often moody narratives are offset by a sense of wry and knowing dark humor , wherein anthropomorphic taxidermied apes square off against burlesque wrestlers , vicious criminals rub shoulders with ersatz dinosaurs : a phantasmagoria of ill starred misfits .