“I want to be an honest artist,” says Theanly when talking about this series. Drawn from Theanly’s own experience as a young artist, through a simple gesture he tells the story of everyday life and personal aspirations. In each composition a solitary figure stands or sits with their head tilted back, and their body extended behind them. Theanly paints a horizon just above their mouth suggesting that they are floating in water, barely able to breath—just “surviving”. The figures do not struggle but are calm and appear introspective. A tension is created however by the imagined water and uncertainty of the situation.
Theanly is very sparing and efficient with his use of colors and lines. Instead of depicting the water realistically, he presents an abstracted form that “we can’t see with our eyes, but we can feel it.” He applies minimalistic fields of color for each individual, suggesting a personal experience that is known only to them. He has reduced the complexity of the human condition to a singular gesture that is poetic and universal. In this series, Theanly draws on live models that he selects amongst his friends, people he observes on the street and even himself. He poses them standing as well as sitting on chairs, a difference that signifies their varying personal circumstances and an echo of his own.