This painting, ‘Singing the Minstrel Boy’ by Jack. B Yeats has triggered my ongoing fascination with the stage. I have been fascinated with it since I was a child. My mother was a trained circus performer and I can remember very vividly my first theatre performance. Ever since then, the stage has been is a magical place for me. Everything on stage is born out of the darkness; daytime, nighttime, sounds, changing settings, action, still stand, smoke in the backlight, smells from the dusty curtain, a bang from a revolver, false hair, forgotten texts and the ghosts of the past that become visible.
The stage is an interesting subject for a painting. A framed fiction itself, the stage is framed once again by the painting, therefore it is an image contained within an image. Yeats’ depiction in this painting of that moment within a staged performance is uncanny. The uncanniness of the moment is echoed in the actresses pale face. Maybe the light conditions were not perfect, maybe the make up was over dramatic, and so she comes across as a ghost… the ghost of an actress that has to perform over and over again, caught in the moment and doomed to perform forever. At the same time the audience were also doomed to watch that performance over again and again, pretending to see it anew.
For me, what Yeats has captured in ‘Singing the Minstrel Boy’ is the essence of both those who perform and those who consume. In the scenario of this painting, we as viewers are also integrated into the image, with those who watch us, watching others watch.
“The Night” – An exhibition by Alexandra Hopf is on display at the Model until the 16. Apr. 2017
“Singing the Minstrel Boy”(1923) by Jack B. Yeats is currently featured in “Lives” a Model exhibition in The Niland Gallery. “Lives” will be on display until 01. Oct. 2017.