Author Brian Carling interviews artist Eleanor Adair who discusses her forthcoming figurative show at the Kiroh Gallery in Edinburgh.
This interview was published in part in the Kiroh Art Gallery magazine, September 2006.

Your work never seems to lose its figurative element. Why the figure?
I think the figure is such a personal belonging, yet we've no choice but to exhibit it wherever we go. We take along something with us which is subject to judgment by everyone who looks. The canvas is somewhere to explore the disruptions and extremities that make the body talk, and for me the figure is the best place to do this.

Do you paint yourself?
My pictures are full of myself, but also of everyone else I've absorbed along the way. Hopefully, I make a connection with the viewer so that I can become anyone to them, this takes me outside the space of the canvas, and even how I know myself. People's reactions invent a new world, a new place for me. You don't stay on the canvas and you don't stay still if you have a viewer, and art needs to be about movement. So yes, they are me, but also, the viewer builds their own meaning into the person on the canvas.

Are the paintings angry?
Yes. I hope they show up many emotions. You're painting your body but at the same time you're painting what's inside, and that's what makes the body talk.

Popular representations of the body often present us with limited options. You seek to expose yourself beyond that. Why?
Painting is a bit like a personal ad, you advertise everything you need, everything you are and that which you are blind to. If the viewer can't take that exposure then they'll look elsewhere. That's okay, but if you're arrogant whilst looking at art you block the dynamics. The artist plays a role in filling up space that challenges the contained, precise and predictable forms we're so often presented with. There's something destructive when your eye is told it has to accept limitations: everything becomes bland if you can't see past this. Once eyes start moving outside of predictable shapes then those shapes become exciting again.

Do you think our relationship with our bodies has become destructive?
I don't think it's anything new. Defining our self has always involved the appraisal of others, the monitored and monitoring self, so that self consciousness allows us to both delight and destroy. Our bodies have been spoilt along the way because of our perception of how others judge them. But they've also been beautifully elaborated and presented because of vanity. Humans are good at that. If you paint through the disruption of extremities, the body can be seen as struggling with alienation and objectification, and there's both beauty and destruction in that.

Is a body distorted and abstracted in the way that you do any less fake than the airbrushed images in the mass media?
Probably not. What I paint though is determined by my emotions and so I submit to something that feels honest. But I know we're all deluded and subject to bias, and this is also a medium that distorts that honesty. I suppose it's an alternative account of the human form: I'm doing bodies for eyes that like to wander.

Do you find yourself inspired by the work of other artists?
Absolutely. It's always exciting to encounter good art, you connect, that's invigorating, if you get excited you get inspired. That's the life that makes you paint.

Artists have a reputation for being eccentric. Are you a mad artist?
I have the ingredients: nature and nurture. But of course, it could just be short sightedness.