Michael J. O’Rourke: Forehead

  • ©,





Creation Year:



    Iris print on paper


    35 inches x 41 inches



Artist Statement:

    This image and the others in its series deal with the passage of time, mortality, sex, sexual energy, vulnerability, power, the energies of being alive, and the passing of those energies. Many of these issues, considered in combination, feel incompatible to us, yet all of them co-exist simultaneously in us. How is it that we can be moving towards our death, and at the same time be so alive? How can we reconcile our power and our vulnerability.

    The image has no clear edge, no clear boundary. Its elements spill over beyond the standard rectangle of traditional pictorial space and stray into the empty white space of the paper. Where does the image end and the non-image begin?

    The composition combines normally disparate types of imagery-photographic/hand-drawn, representational/abstract, realistic/iconic. The fusion of traditionally unrelated, even antithetical, imagery into a coherent whole raises questions about image-making itself and about our process of categorization.

    In the same vein, the images in this series reference other imagery from the history of human image-making. How do we use the imagery of earlier cultures? How do the images I create become part of the language of my cultural successors.? The electronic age assures that we can no longer draw from only one pectoral tradition. Our imagery, across the planet and across time, is shared. The styles intermingle; the vocabularies, the icons, the meanings intermix.

    The central element of Forehead is a close-up photograph of the artist’s face. This photograph was taken using a scanner as a digital camera, holding the scanner up close to the face. Because the technology of scanners is not designed for this purpose, the resulting image de-focuses and distorts beyond a few inches from the scanner surface. This produces an image that has an intimacy that is almost confrontational, as when a stranger stands too close to you in the conversation.

    Intermingled with this central image are several overlapping scanned graphite drawings of images and objects from our cultural past and present- a hand drawn rendering of Ingres famous painting, “Turkish Bather”; a hand-drawn sketch of a figure from a contemporary soft-porn magazine; a sketch of a ceremonial mask from central Africa; an abstract squiggle of lines. At top-left is a mechanically precise sequence of rectangles, like the dashes of light screen on the face of an electronic device.

    The image is printed in a limited edition of 30 with the Iris printing technology, using archival papers and inks.

Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    Pratt Institute