This painting was recently sold to a very appreciative and wonderful buyer who asked about the meaning. This prompted me to retrieve something I wrote about it at the time, and in returning to this found something worth posting. I was reading TS Eliot's "Four Quartets" a bit obsessively at the time, which if you are familiar with it might go some of the way to explaining the theme.
The model, a dancer, half pushes, and is half dragged around the fulcrum of a wristwatch, with the inexorable gravity of a unidirectional timeline. She usually is constantly in motion, flowing with the arcs of music and the eddies of emotion and personal meaning, but here she held one pose for extended sittings for the painting to be executed. Time hung, the objective measure of the watch hands moved agonisingly slowly, while she worked to maintain both the tension and stillness of the pose, having to continuously reimagine the intention of the movement.
Subjective time is central to the conscious experience of a human being, to our sense of both identity and agency. The present moment feels crisp, rich with the delineations of form, while the past and the future feel progressively murky and approximate the further we get from Now. They are dreamworlds that stretch in either direction away from us on the linear, unidirectional timeline that Physics, as it currently stands, suggests is an illusion. It feels as though the present moment is bracketed, like the frame of a movie, yet the past and the future (subjectively at least), invade and blur that bracket. Time is at once disconcerting and central to all we can value.
Dancing, like the music which provokes its motions, moves through time and then disappears - a brave flash of human will and passion in the darkness, a defiant and beautifully tragic song of the body. Painting, on the other hand, sits quietly - an artefact composed of the marks and thoughts of its making - the insights, frustrations, simplifications and errors are layered into a static thing that can nonetheless point to a history of will, consciousness and aliveness.