Polynesian tattoos have always interested Ross. Widely travelled,
especially in Asian and Pacific countries, he relates to the cultural,
yet universally spiritual, nature of many traditional tattoos used by
Polynesian societies for centuries.
In this body of work he pays homage to tattooed men of the South Pacific.
Outlawed until recent decades by missionaries, tribal tattoos have
enjoyed a resurgence in the Marquesas Islands, although it is likely
that some of their religious and traditional meanings may have been
Tattoos have a very long history and gained popularity throughout the
world as the practice spread, some thousands of years ago, from Egypt
(where priestesses were tattooed for mystical and sacred purposes) to
Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Polynesia and Africa.
Ritual body painting as part of Australian Aboriginal ceremonies seems to be the nearest equivalent to traditional tattoos in this country.
Traditional and tribal tattoos from most countries have a cultural relevance, steeped in history.
In Polynesian countries the practice was thought to unite a person with his ancestors, to reflect his or her status in society as well as to protect the individual from evil forces whilst engaging mysterious and divine spiritual forces.
Discussing aspects of his work and Polynesian tattoos in particular, Ross tells me – “It’s the symbolism that fascinates me and the stories that accompany the designs. The desire to tell a story without words, through art, is primal and has existed since time immemorial. It is the artist’s ultimate tool of communication.”
The drawings of tattoos on the men’s arms are generalized impressions gained by the artist of the value to a culture of these body markings, not exact representations of them.
Ross' acrylic painting techniques rely heavily on line to describe form and his palette is limited so as to be almost monochromatic.
One could describe his portrait paintings as being drawn with paint, simplified to essentials so that the character and spiritual connection with his subjects shines through.
If you have any queries about his work please contact Ross direct via his website.