Last evening I finished a new painting, Genesis. As is so often the case my inspiration was the Popol Vuh, the sacrifice and resurrection of the Maize God , the Hero Twins,  and the narrative of the Creation of Man.

An added inspiration was AIDS, I am of that generation where many of my friends and loved ones from my youth are now long since dead.  Not too long ago Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart was on television. My visceral reaction was of  a resurrected  fear, long suppressed, reborn at the sight of so many Spotted Men.    Those  past  days of Act Up meetings in NYC and Philadelphia; those handsome men speckled with death and anxiety; demonstrations on the street, at St. Patricks…; anxiety and selfish terror, would I be next?; and yet the excitement of activism, these  were all faded memories in my now relatively carefree life.  Until that film.

I was  confronted once again with that incessant gnawing deep within, a true existential crisis. So in a simple way, my Hero Twin Hunahpu, who is  traditionally depicted spotted, as he too encountered Death,  represents all those struck down. Somehow I missed the scythe, I bear witness like Xbalanque, Hunahpu’s brother in arms.




oil on canvas

30 by 40 inches

My Spotted Hunahpu


The inspiration for this painting is also from a previous painting, Primavera a relatively small water color. My friend, the incredible artist, Judithe Hernandez suggested I rework Primavera either in grissaile or as a larger composition. When in doubt I always choose larger. The original version:

Greco_Primavera-watercolor copy



watercolor on paper

In this painting there is a nicely perverse little subterranean flowering plant, symbolic of life in hostile situations; today my lovely little Stapelia-Carrion flower offered up a gorgeous maggot filled blossom. A Boschian treat if ever there was one.


This morning’s Carrion  blossom, more on the way.

IMG_5478 2 My imagined Carrion Flower.

Tomorrow I return “home’, Philadlephia, to visit family of the flesh and those of brick, and paint and marble. Philadelphia is so architecturally rich: Furness, Richardson, Queen Anne, 18th c; plus the museums, I will be in heaven.  I think I will print out this “prayer card” of the Maize God , Hun Hanahpu to keep me safe.


Be well, Lg

Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

4 thoughts on “Genesis”

  1. Only just caught up with this post today, sitting in the work canteen with my iPad, and then suddenly confronted with your image – deeply moving, dignified and powerful, but it also makes me angry as any work that deals with that time of terrible suffering in the ’80s and early ’90s does, suffering that goes on all over the world where people don’t have access to antiretroviral drugs. I guess we’re of a similar generation Leonard, I identify with all the things you write as about here. This is just a great, great painting in every way, an important painting. As the height of the AIDS crisis in the West recedes in time these works of art that bear witness will become more important – lest we forget.

    1. Dear Phil, I’m pleased “Genesis” resonates. As an artist you never know what will have meaning aside from what it means to you. So good, I’m pleased. I’m guessing I’m older, 52, but you were in the thick of it as well. I went back home recently to Philadelphia and I was pleased to see that the organizations I was involved with during the 90’s were alive and well, directing their efforts to the newest at risk folks, namely those of color. The struggle continues but the mood seemed less fatalistic (but also less alive ). There was a powerful drama in being a despised subgroup dying in front of world that simply did not care; I imagine that is how Africa continues to feel, no matter what plague (viral or idealogical) they are confronted with. So no room to forget.
      Happy note, sorry about that, be well,

      1. Hey Leonard, yes, it is good to see that in some quarters at least, the struggle isnt so terrible, although around the world the news is more depressing than ever. Genesis did resonate powerfully with me, its not often i see this subject transformed into art so eloquently, a heck of an achievement mister!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: