I’ve just sent off my newest painting/s – a diptych called, “The World in Mirror.” It’ll be shown to the public for the first time at the upcoming group show, “Horrorwood,” at Culver City’s awesome contemporary art spot, WWA gallery. It’ll be my second showing in California, having shown at WWA earlier this year. The previous show was a success on many levels; I sold one of my favorite paintings on the opening night. I hope that the new showing will be just as successful. As before, I am going to attend the opening night. I have always believed that whenever it is possible, an artist should make an effort to connect to the people that support and attend galleries and their openings. Plus it is always nice to have someone tell you they like your work and shake your hand. The gallery is big and has a lot of open space, so I hope the public will come out and pack it in!
The theme of this show is horror movie characters and situations. I think it will prove to be very interesting as the array of talented artists bring their personal visions to the horror universe. I have shown before with some of the artists involved, and I know that their works will be great. I’m looking forward to meeting the other artists and seeing their work, too. My piece for this show is a bit of departure from previous works, but I am very pleased with the new direction, too.
To start, the obvious thing to say about the painting is that it is two paintings. I decided on a diptych format after having an inspiration to compose the piece in mirror reverse. I thought it would be a challenging way to see the piece and interesting to compose. In addition, it helped me convey the juxtaposition of reality and the surreal as I dealt with the subject of my piece, the Creature. I wanted to show the Creature as a sort of horrible proto-human; a monstrous configuration of psychological demons. A way of showing what we might have been in a more primordial time. Around that imagined creature, I put the real world; a world that is populated with true primordial monsters – the alligator and crocodile. They are truly terrifying even if they shy away from the Creature. To further drive home the monster aspect and to introduce an air of freakishness and curiosity, I painted the large reptiles as albinos. Albino alligators and crocodiles are generally unable to survive in the wild because they can’t hide and stalk prey. In my painted world, they must survive only due to the grace of the Creature. An unsettling relationship when you really think about it. It seems that they are part of the few that can survive around the Creature. This is portrayed by the nonchalant way the horrible monster ferries the human skull through the water. Is it an amulet of sorts, or a prize to keep, or even a revered object that connects the creature to a future that has otherwise passed by? I also liked the idea that the skull in its hand showed the past had destroyed, but clung to the future. Speaking on that relationship between past and future, human and almost human, I built the Creature’s body over a human skeleton. I painted a skeleton onto the canvas, (a few times, I might add…) in the spots were the Creature would be painted. I wanted the body of the monster to show the skeletal frame clearly. I wanted it to confuse the point as to whether this was a monster or something more closely related to humans. That, to me, was the scariest thing to contemplate . I think the skeletal underpainting is most evident in the Creature’s sunken eyes and skull-like face. Its scaly pectoral plates cling to a rib cage and the body is long, thin and gaunt. It’s a terrifying thing to behold and I feel that it is miles from the (sometimes hokey) 1954 movie monster in the original, “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” I wanted my monster to pay homage to the original gill-man, but to depart into a stylized version with some exaggerated features, (the skull-like face, the long torso and limbs, the bright colors framed in blue moonlight, the red orb-like eyeballs.) In addition to referencing the original Creature’s looks, I quoted from the movie when I painted the two sides. The left side is a Swamp, a reference to the original shooting location for the underwater scenes. Plus, I live in Florida and swamps are kinda everywhere! It was easier to imagine. Anyway, the right side is the Amazon, a reference to the location as told by the original movie’s location. So, I played up the differences with specific details for each side. In the Swamp there is an alligator and a Coral snake, cypress trees and palmettos; in the Amazon there is a crocodile and a Green Mamba, mangrove trees and shrubs. I wanted the landscape to be sparse and seemingly empty. It felt creepier to me. So, I distilled the composition down the essential elements – just enough to tell the story while leaving enough void in which the story can reverberate. The final elements I used to tie the whole piece to together, (as if two mirror images were not cohesive enough…,) were the floating orbs. I have often painted spheres throughout my body of work. I use them in varying ways: for movement, depth, rhythm, and even emotion. Here, they were used as a focal point, (the gator and croc are staring at the point of origin of the orbs - a point that is actually between the canvases…,) and to fill the environment with mystery and the un-real.
Hey, I’m as deep as the next artist. I just don’t talk about it too much. Besides, I truly believe that a viewer’s interpretation is the right one for him or her. So, I thought I’d share a little more about this painting and some of my thoughts as I was making it. I hope you like it.
I’m really looking forward to showing it in less than 2 weeks! It’ll be a whirlwind trip to L.A., but I hope to make the most of it and come back: less one awesome piece and with one more happy collector!