Presentation at the Temple

spent part of yesterday and today sketching out a new painting. As I work I find myself wanting to be more and more deliberate in my (graven) image making. Trying to be more fully aware of the composition , the drawing out my ideas provides an excellent roadmap. That and it is a hell of a lot of fun. 

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The Presentation at the Temple

2016

graphite and colored pencil on paper

I am returning to a theme I explored in 2014, another painting also called The Presentation at the Temple but one in which I pursued the composition less deliberately . The painting hangs in my studio and I have never been happy with it, yet I am not the sort of painter to rework a painting. Generally I allow the painting to be less than satisfying and make an another attempt; drawing upon what I felt was working and abandoning the rest. Such is the case with this new painting.

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The Presentation at the Temple 

2014

oil on canvas

30 by 40″

When I look at this painting on my screen I like it,yet some things drive me nuts, I feel the female figure Coatlicue is undeveloped for example; but mostly, the painting feels to large. I feel my play upon the biblical presentation scene should be more intimate , more jewel like, more of an illumination. So this version will for starters feature a more composed  earth mother Coatlicue , presenting her son, the war god Huitzilopochtli (also of virgin birth) will bepainted on a 12 by 16″ panel. I think it will work out well, plus frankly, there isn’t any more room in the studio for large paintings, I’m maxed out. 

 The theme draws upon multiple references, traditional images of the Presentation, such as this wall mural from an Orthodox church (The Brotherhood of the Holy Cross,  which I believe is  in upstate NY):

presentation:from brotherhood of holycross 

But also popular culture such as the usually cute, yet in this image,completely  crazed wrestler Conner McGregor:

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Part of my studio discipline has been devoting a portion of the day, usually before lunch, to making  at least one decent rendering a day. I’ve made this challenge part of my Instagram feed ( leonardgrecoart). What I’m rediscovering is just how much I love drawing, particularly graphite on toned paper with chalk highlights. I am finding myself improving each day. This image, of Christ Enthroned, I felt to be successful.

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Well for now that is all, be well.

LG 

Descent from the Cross,II

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Descent from the Cross, II

2015

acrylic on canvas

30 by 40″

” The central image of Christianity ‘a tortured male nude, a feminized man who has passively …accepted humiliation,punishment and death’ [was] contemptuously rejected” by the National Socialist party , so says J.A. Mangan in Shaping the Superman: Fascist Body as Political Icon-Aryan Fascism. 

The Nazi Übermensch decidedly rejected the model set by Christ.

I’m no Übermensch, in fact I often find myself at odds with a society prone to assertive excess.  I’m withdrawn by nature, I loathe violence (haven’t eaten meat in 25 years), avoid conflict and prefer to defer than to assert. This of course has its drawbacks particularly when needing to promote your work or offer a contrary opinion; my need to please is often a curse. But given that, the gentler approach , the compassionate approach set by Christ(and others) is still the right approach. My intention with this painting was to depict this tremendous gift of grace that was offered, as it is very day, in so many ways.  Offered yet rejected, by hubris, pride, power, one’s own inability to see the good and the just before one’s eyes.

It is a daily struggle for me. Emotionally I am at a low point in my life, a mid-life questioning of an existence perhaps squandered. Having only recently turned to personal expression through art making I wonder if I will ever “catch-up”, am I able, worthy, have I voice and the means to express it. I don’t know. I’m officially registered at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for a six week critique course. That is to be the first step in what will most likely be an odyssey of self discovery. I’m hoping to find my voice and assert it…with grace.

This is the school, designed by the INCREDIBLE  Frank Furness http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Furness

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My intention with this painting was to incorporate traditional and non-traditional elements. There is of course the Blessed Virgin to the left, but there is also a Wodewose/Wildman to the left, to represent the old order, the Old Gods, who comprehended truth and were able to fathom the tremendous loss. And then there is the Beloved John; is he a jail yard thug or a Silver Lake homo? I don’t know, but he bears his witness by his thorny torso etchings ( a visual nod to the artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, a master at Pictish ornament).

I started the painting on Good Friday, and thanks to the miracle of acrylic paint I finished up in a relatively timely fashion. Next week a return to oil,but this, to show how the painting progressed.

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Thanks for taking the time to look at my work.

Be well,

LG

Skipped Mass;Painted Instead

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I love Maundy Thursday, the washing of the feet, the adoration and entombment of the Eucharist-the Slavic church I used to attend had the most incredible 19th c. “hill” crafted of  spit, glue and devotion. The all night vigil that follows is always deeply moving to me.

I had intended to participate this year after nearly a 25 year absence . After all there is this new welcoming pope and I had found this adorable church very close to our house ( Cathedral Chapel of Saint Vibiana).

But then I began to paint and it went well, so I stayed put, feeling this was my place.

I hope He understands.

This is the progress thus far on Descent from the Cross II, acrylic on canvas, started this week.

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Wishing all a moment of peace and reflection on this Good Friday.

Pax vobiscum,

Lg

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That Most Terrible Tree

Given that it is Holy Week and Good Friday is fast approaching, I have been at work on a Deposition of Christ. My friend and fellow LA artist J have been in a bit of a duel, each tackling this well known subject. I’m eager to see what he comes up with, this is my offering, a watercolor on paper,clicking upon the image enlarges it for detailed viewing.

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 Descent from the Cross, I

2015

watercolor on paper

11 by 14 “

My intention was to capture the unimaginable grief of those who had born witness. J and I had stumbled upon an early Renaissance gold-ground image in which the attending angels were painted black. That really stuck with me, how unimaginable the loss, that even angels who have seen it all could not control their grief. 

I started another Descent yesterday morning, this is the scribbling in…

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 I am back in class ( English Comp 1-c) and as usual overwhelmed, hence my cobwebbed  studio.

If I do not post before, Happy Passover and/or Joyous Easter!

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Life, Death and if not Resurrection, Redemption.

In my work I turn repeatedly to issues of mortality, sacrifice, redemption and self knowledge (gnosis). 

It probably isn’t much of a surprise that Good Friday is my favorite day of the Church calendar ; I have strayed (or She has) from the traditions of my youth, but the Passion reading never fails to  move me deeply. My belief in a god, or not, is wavering but the narrative of this day, of this man during his final hours has influenced my work profoundly. Whether he was divine or not, an issue that caused great discord between the Church Fathers and the “heretical ” gnostics is of little concern to me. In fact, appealing to my humanist inclinations, it is the mortal man, willingly offering up such a terrible gift that astounds me. I have countless images of the Ecce Homo, the Crucifixion, the Deposition,  religious postcards, 19th c. chromolithographs, icons, statuary, every museum visit I head straight to the medieval wing, I never tire of the depictions of this suffering wretch. My heart bleeds for him each time ,the pathos so intense. His mother, she too breaks my heart, to have such a selfless ally is incomprehensible . These archetypes will continue to fuel my work, as they are now befriended by their “pagan” siblings, the Maize God most notably.

The following is just a sampling of my online “scrapbook” devoted to Christ and the BVM.

botticelli:cristo risorto:1480:detroit copy

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the Black Christ above is from our trip to Mexico City @ the Cathedral

master of flemalle:crucified thief:1410:frankfurt

cristo alla colonna:1680:filippo parodi

sodoma

hot pieta

Apparently I am not the only on to see the eroticism in the crucifixion; sadly I do not know whose work this is. I stumbled upon it unidentified-any info very welcome.

mary crying6 copy

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mary with veil

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masaccio

Every day is Good Friday in my studio, aside from the numerous depictions mentioned above, my studio is dominated by a large oil on tin painting depicting Christ accepting the Cross (one of the stations,  I cannot remember which one). I purchased this back east, in snooty and very protestant Bucks County. When I spotted it in a dusty barn owned by a particularly arrogant designer/antiques peddler I asked after it. He laughed in my face, such an absurd request , who would want such a monstrosity. With withering condescension  he offered it to me  for five bucks. My heart was racing with joy-to hell with his arrogance, this was a treasure!

 It has been with me for over 25 years , I love it more every day. I rely upon it for facial expressions, painting technique, coloring, companionship during adversity, it has in so many ways  been a mentor. 

IMG_4830Be well.