Social constructs of perfection are central to Jane Duncan's series entitled Trophy Lovers. Through the manipulation of golden trophy figurines into highly fabricated picturesque visions of idealized love, Duncan illuminates issues associated with the modern relationship, the tendency towards feelings of entitlement to perfection and the inevitable repercussions of empty fleeting infatuation.
The Trophy Lover As
Perfection And Pedigree:
In the image Pedigree, we are presented with a plastic physical embodiment of ultimate beauty and good breeding in both human and canine. But what is perfection and how can it be represented by a cheap plastic shiny trophy? In Duncan's paintings, figures are not composed of the expected golden hues but rather by tiny patches of light made up of a multitude of colours which are dictated by the surrounding world. Arguably a correlation could be drawn between this method of observing colour and the way in which we view the concept of a trophy. Is it not true that the criteria for perfection, the winner, or the best is simply dictated by the surrounding world? Who dictates the ideal?
The Trophy Lover As Fantasy:
Throughout the collection, the use of intense colours, blown-out highlights and ambiguous ethereal backgrounds work to develop a mood of fantasy. Golden figures float in ecstasy through a magical heavenly world filled with love, transcendent and pure. The consciously staged fantasy lover is a theme revisited consistently throughout art history. The painting Odalisque references a long tradition of odalisques, namely Manet's Olympia, Ingres' La Grande Odalisque and any number of works from Matisse's Odalisque collection. The term odalisque traditionally refers to a Turkish Harem Slave, generally exoticized, other-worldly and essentially out of reach. As a reflection of a 21st century mentality of feelings of entitlement and indulgence, Trophy Lovers: Odalisque breaks away from that tradition in that she is represented by something very tangible. One can hold a cheap plastic trophy figurine in one's hand. The status as trophy implies that it can be won, achieved, obtained. What does a trophy lover, a fantasy, become once it is won? This question is central to the theme of the painting Odalisque. Is the figure reclining in a state of ecstasy, or is she a battered woman lying motionless in defeat?
The Trophy Lover As Fiction:
Despite the series' undeniable undercurrent of cynicism and sarcasm, the series aims to expose our natural human idiocy to believe in standards of perfection. Each Trophy Lover image is crafted with a comic jab at the plastic, rigid, superficiality of these perfect characters. Dissatisfaction inevitably arises in any situation when expectations are perfection. Ideally these images will provoke in the viewer a reassessment of values, a readiness to overlook or accept the flaws in others and a renewal of appreciation for the beauty that is already present in our lives.