As 2016 winds down I want to pause, taking the time to reflect upon what 2017 might bring, personally and aesthetically. I’ve had a long fascination with 1917, it seemed such a dynamic period; the October Revolution will mark its centennial this year, as one example.
For me, 1917 seemed exceptional, society was on the cusp of modernity yet still rooted in what was the past. Values, aesthetic, cultural and artistic were changing at a rapid pace, yet still there were antimacassars on the back of velveteen settees, suffragettes were only just beginning to gather steam and art vacillated between DADA and academic treacle. It seems to have been a period of incredible potential, one faced an optimistic yet uncertain future.
I feel that way now, one hundred years later. Yet whereas 1917 was being propelled into the Jazz and later the Atomic Age, I’m fearful of being pulled back into the Dark Ages. I needn’t harp about the President Elect and the backward thinking regime he wishes to install. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my opinions and my anxieties.
(source unknown, sorry)
My instinct is to crawl back into my hermitage, something I may very well do (although I do hope to participate in social activism as needed). While there I hope to work at perfecting an aesthetic that I think is working for me. My last large painting Hadesville felt to me to be my most successful yet ( it will get its first public showing this Friday at a pop up show in LA). I feel I am on to something and have been calling what I wish to explore Neo-Medievalism.
I’m finding freedom in this aesthetic that I am honing , from the exploration of surface pattern to the quirky articulation of the figures. One of the elements of actual medieval/early Renaissance art that I love is the use of synoptic narrative, where all of the action takes place on one plane; that just fascinates the hell out of me.
It’s incredibly liberating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative_art#Synoptic_narrative
I suspect the hermitage theme will preoccupy my studio practice in 2017. I’ve been obsessing about hermitages for years but now with what feels like dark winds blowing against my door, the inclination to withdraw into the anchorite’s cave has never been more pressing.
Of course , if I am to explore hermits, I can’t forget about Anthony of the Desert OR his pig!
Our pig SweetTea may very well serve as a model.
My interest in Neo-Medievalism was fueled by a recent trip to the Sequoia National Park , where the majesty of these ancient gods, some sacrificed by fire, some promising hope for a new age, moved me deeply. This beautiful charred corpse is as crenelated as gothic fretwork.
Yet through the remains of a burnt trunk, new life.
I’m finished pondering what 2017 will bring, instead I must get to actual work. I will close with images that promise to inspire my pen. For a fuller appreciation I suggest listening to Hildegard, this link is to one of my favorite recordings of her vast body of work.
This image, Dido?, her belly, so typical of this period , was an influence for the image of Gnosis in my painting Gnosis…and the Old Gods Were Pleased. The painting recently sold to an East Coast collector, thrilled about that but still a bit melancholy for I fear Gnosis has fled in these dark times.
To a new year, battle ready !