Statement - Athletes
an artist I draw a parallel between arts and athletics - the
resilience, endurance, passion and practice or skill required to master
a difficult discipline with all the pitfalls.
The works focus on
the athlete's facial expressions as manifestations of intense emotions,
e.g. tension or relief, joy or despair.
The works reveal
aspects of the human body during the athletic activity, e.g. muscular
strain and tensions, and capture the athletes in moments of balance or
concentration/focus - exploring the narrow and uncertain line
between success and failure.
My portrait paintings of disabled
athletes celebrate their accomplishments and pay tribute to their
fighting spirit/resilience and the power of sport to inspire
recovery/support rehabilitation (physically, psychologically &
socially) and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who
have suffered from injury or illness, or were born with a disability.
the athletes in moments of high tension, focus or emotive states, my
works explore the athletes’ physical challenges and strains, their
tenacity, concentration, determination, but also their dignity and
unconquerable spirit. Omitting details, such as names or numbers on
athletes’ banners/labels or specific context in the background, draws
the viewer’s focus to the human figure and the athletes’ facial
Against the background of the Nazis’
discrimination against people with disabilities (calling for their
sterilization, labelling them 'life unworthy of life', 'useless eaters'
or highlighting their ‘burden on society’), which eventually escalated
into the murder of them as part of their eugenics and euthanasia
programme, today's sportive opportunities for disabled athletes, their
spirit of competition, sporting excellence and inspiring determination,
are a remarkable change and a celebration of hope, perseverance and
lives worth living.
Seventy years ago, in 1948, the first
athletics day for disabled athletes ('Stoke Mandeville Games’) took
place in London (coinciding with the Summer Olympics), organized by a
refugee from Nazi Germany, Dr Ludwig Guttman. He treated spinal cord
injuries of Word War II veterans and sport was a central element of the
rehabilitation system that he introduced to restore hope and a sense of
purpose to lead active lives again. Later, people with disabilities
caused by industrial accidents, many of them miners from the north of
England, also joined. Today's Paralympics or (since 2014) Invictus
Games for example, evolved from these early competitions.