Powerful, sensual, painful, vulnerable, joyful - when I draw or paint the female figure I often contemplate what it means to inhabit my own body. Entrenched in a long art historical discourse dictated by ‘the male gaze’, my practice aims to reveal the nude in an autonomous, empowered and sensual way by reinterpreting old master drawings with my own life drawing observations and intuition. Either in the immediacy of an encounter or in the fragility of a memory, drawing is a personal and authentic form of expression in my practice. Drawing directly onto canvas with oil bar, my practice seeks to capture the qualities of a preparatory sketch. It is an exploratory process, allowing each mark to land as an expressive catalyst for the next. The staining nature of the medium mimics that of charcoal traditionally used in the academic style of figure drawing. Using bold colour pigments I aim to reject the ideas of classical draughtsmanship and question the hierarchy of painting by raising the status of the preparatory drawing to canvas.
Responding to Oscar Wilde’s adaptation of ‘Salomé’, the artist attempts to comprehend the role of ‘woman’ in both the biblical and contemporary society. A strong and virile presence in the realm of Man, Salomé is consequently destroyed; her independent and passionate form of femininity banished from this world. Inspired by Wilde’s words, the artist constructs relevant visual narratives from focal language to overarching themes. The paintings, unified in a vision of blue, draw close to Salomé’s preemptive declarations of love, obsession and urgent longings for the mysterious prisoner; a pure and ardent dream before Salomé’s final dance to an unrepentant end. Ottelien’s bold and expressive figurative compositions are deep rooted in the traditional practice of life drawing; allowing her to work from sketches and intuition.