I finished this painting last week. Certain elements of the painting are experimental, most specifically the use of canvas cutouts applied to the canvas. Inspired by Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ use of maquettes, I created figures and attached them to the canvas.
It was frankly a naive understanding of how to use Clive’s technique; I have since come to better understand the actual approach. I confess I would not suggest my version, it was a bit cumbersome, difficult to remedy errors.
But in the end I rather like the finished painting, a little macabre puppet theatre devoted to the Mayan Underworld.
In this admittedly theatric depiction we witness two acts. On the left the Maize God Hun Hunahpu is sacrificied by the treacherous Lords of Xibalba. The Maize God’s head is placed upon the proscenium, in the Popol vuh it is placed upon the upper branches the calabash tree.
On the right, the celestial ball payers, the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque redeem their fathers honor.
The following are details of the Sacrifice and the Redemption. In the sacrifice, the snakes pouring out of the torso are a reference to the Mesoamerican tradition of portraying spilt blood as snakes.That really is a very clever idea, I can imagine streams of blood seeming as frightful as venomous snakes.
The following is a detail of the Lords of Xibalba.
For now that is it. I am finishing up another painting from the Popol vuh series, plus one devoted to Perseus and Andromedus, yes a male Andromeda. In what my friend Clive refers to as gay revisionism I am claiming this much loved theme for my gay self.
This painting, Sacrifice and Redemption caused one of my professors concern in that it might offend Chicano machismo sensibilities. She felt I should reconsider the nudity. I cannot, I see almost all of my characters in the buff, through a quasi Classical perspective. I was taken aback by her suggestion, particularly as she holds a Phd in Renaissance art history. But there you go!
Take care, LG
I realized after making the post the head of the Maize God had become clipped, I confess I may very well be the worst photographer ever. I intend to remedy that by taking a class in the Autumn. Until that time, patience please.
10 thoughts on “Sacrifice and Redemption”
WOW! this is a fabulous painting! the fire is wonderfully rendered, the colors are so vibrant across the whole piece! and i love the green dragons, with their plant-like aspects, and the monkey-like creature on the dragon hat. my favorites have to be the two blue figures, thought–i really like the way you’ve rendered the muscles and the yellow glow, i am just floored.
what a sad professor, though. really.
Fantastic work Leonard. The palette is staggering. Frankly you’ve thrown every known colour in the spectrum at the canvas, and yet you’ve pulled it off with aplomb!
I’d agree that the technique of patching the canvas with figures seems an overly-complicated solution. If you have maquettes built to scale (not a waste as you’ll use them over and over) surely you can work out your compositional solutions with these in situ on the canvas. Then just copy the chosen figure and pose into the selected position. But that having been said, you’ve made the painting work even with the cumbersomeness of the patching, so I have no criticism. It’s just that you might make life a little less complicated… and indeed more flexible… for yourself.
I love that kneeling figure with the arterial streams of blood rendered as snakes. Marvellous stuff! I’m SO proud of the things you’re achieving right now. I hope you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself. You should be. These have real presence. You’re developing your own unique visual lexicon. All of your historic inspirations are present, but re-invented into this fantastic new world. There’s a really attractive quality here that reminds of all types of ‘popular’ art: Indian film posters, Mexican Day of the Dead folk-art, ‘outsider’ artists and the ‘tinsel’ images of the Regency toy theatre.
There will always be those who are offended by aspects of how gay men express sensuality and sexual identity in their paintings. Witness the discomfort of the macho idiot who recently wrote so poisonously of the homoerotic in my own work. (In such cases I always think ‘the lady doth protest too much’, because the sexually confident don’t get discombobulated so easily!) You just know you’re hitting a tender spot when people start complaining of such things, and making people examine ‘the difficult’ is the DUTY of the artist. So keep on doing what you’re doing so well, and don’t be knocked off-course. The erotic in your work is powerful. Your ‘tutor’ is looking to emasculate you. Don’t let her persuade you to cut off your own balls, Leonard. You would not be so damned attractive without them! Ha ha!!!! (-;
No I do not often feel terribly confident;often shattered by self doubt. But your words quite literally brought tears to my eyes. You seem to truly understand where I am going and I am so happy you understand my references. I am tickled and deeply grateful. i work in complete isolation, San Diego, the eastern part of the county, is ferociously bleak and conservative. I have gone inward, working hard, which is quite a marvelous blessing. There are moments when I feel progress is being made and I am uncovering how I ought to create. For that I am grateful. I am also quite grateful to you and your very kind and thoughtful readers who pop in with such warmth.
My model is St Anthony of the Desert, so happy to have seraphs visit instead of demons.
btw, your understanding of emasculating homophobic critics is spot on. They do try to censor with wayward comments and obvious discomfort. You are right, we are supposed to be difficult, I will keep that in mind and paint my gods(and goddesses).
Yes, and hang onto those balls! (-;
So bizarre and surreal, and the colors are appropriately lurid. Wonderful!
Lurid is a compliment I will take any hour of the day!
Thank you my friend.
Delirious and good. I had vowed to myself that two comments in one day was enough, that I wouldn’t bombard you all at once just because I happened to be playing catch up… but it couldn’t be helped. And hang your teacher… what kind of advice is that, to impose on yourself the impossible task of imagining every possible stupid reaction to your painting and then revise accordingly?
Thank you, one can never have too many compliments 🙂
Thank you also because so often i really just do not know if something is good, or kitsch, or both, or what. I try not to trouble my soul too much. So I am pleased you think it rather good.
I hope I didn’t paint the professor too black, she is lovely and brilliant, but she is a rigorous academic focused on a particular, rather orthodox, approach. i understand her conservatism but it isn’t at all where i wish to go. The hybrid of Western and Meso is what intrigues me most.
That said, thanks for rooting for my team!