Fateful Encounter at the Axis Mundi at last…

Back in March with a batch of “paper dolls” (my mother-in-law’s description of my maquettes) in front of me,I created a composition that I thought might be suitable for a painting. The painting ,to be part of a cycle devoted to the Mayan creation myth, the Popol vuh. Working from the above mentioned composition I  set about creating some sketches; discovering I enjoyed certain elements of each, I came up with what is now (for now) a final composition .

The scene depicts the moment in the Underworld Xibalba when the freshly sacrificed Maize God, Hun Hunahpu is placed upon a calabash tree (some interpretations mention the tree as the World Tree-the Axis Mundi). The orthodox depiction of the scene is one in which only his head is placed amongst the branches; as I have a difficult time resisting the full form, I took some liberties. Mayan scholars take heed.

With our hero dangling like strange fruit, the Xibalba princess Xquic searches out this forbidden treasure (sounds familiar?). The Maize God upon encountering the Princess spits into her hand (subtle romantic move on his part) and from this spittle the Hero Twins are miraculously conceived , one more virgin birth in the canon of world mythologies. It is this scene I depict, one where the infant Hero Twins float between their parents; soon the Princess will depart the gloom of the Underworld for the sunshine of the living earth. A new adventure will begin for all of the characters.

Fateful Encounter at the Axis Mundi
2012
oil on canvas
20″by30″

 The following is a detail of the Maize God,

detail of Maize God

This is of the Hero Twins, my inspiration was the many early Renaissance depictions of the Annunciation in which the Christ Child is depicted as this wee little babe floating within a nimbus of light.

detail of the infant Hero Twins

And at last, the Princess ( with her demonic cousin Ralph).

detail of the Princess and cousin Ralph

With that I close, having attempted to depict an epic tale of wrathful demon-gods,  a virtuous savior, a virgin birth and heroic infants on a rather limited 20 by 30 inch canvas.

I am now working on a primer, a primer of New Spain. The first letter of course being “A”, will be devoted to the Axis Mundi. So far it looks like it will be handsome.

Until next time,

take care,

LG

Sacrifice and Redemption

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.

Sacrifice and Redemption
2012
oil on canvas
40 by 30


  

  

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.

detail of the Sacrifice of the Maize God


detail of the Redemption of the Maize God by the Hero Twins.

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.

Sacrifice and Redemption

Update from the Underworld

It has been a bit since I last posted, it isn’t that I haven’t been painting, but I have been hesitant to post the progress.

Insecurity perhaps.

I had started a new painting in anticipation of a show in LA, a show I have participated in before devoted to work on paper. Most of my recent work aside from the maquettes have been oil on canvas. The following image is something I am considering submitting. I believe I am close to finished, perhaps some enhancements here and there, but for now, finished.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins has repeatedly suggested to consider all work as a basis for another, scraps of random sketches proving a rich resource for more developed work. I believe him, most particularly when I see his own admirable sketches. Alas, my own scribbles are  often merely that, scribbles. But some do prove inspirational. The following painting was inspired by a very random “scribble-note” taken in a class devoted to Mesoamerican art and culture. That class has been the original impetus for this latest body of work devoted to the Popol huh;the admittedly  clumsy scribble  acting as a  guide for several paintings, this one in particular. 

Memories from Teotihuacan
detail from Memories of Teotihuacan

In this image we have the Hero Twins redeeming the honor of their vanquished father the Maize God. The Lord of the Underworld taunts their valiant effort, but he will indeed suffer the consequence of his hubris. The mother of the Hero twins Xquic looks on.

detail of slain Maize God

As noted this is a detail of Hun Hunahpu, the slain Maize God. In actuality the sacrificial gash would have been horizontal for those nerdy enough to care upon such Meso-minutia.

The following is the sketch that I was speaking about.

I happily spent yesterday in LA, I know I have been trapped in the boondocks a bit too long when LA seems the epicenter of urban sophistication. Such snarkiness aside, LACMA is one of my favorite museums and a really marvelous show devoted to women surrealist living in Mexico is soon to close, for more info, follow this In Wonderland link. It was a truly spectacular show, Leonora Carrington is my new idol, I knew her work essentially from one painting at the Met; having experienced so many of her paintings I am a convert to her cult.

All praise Leonora!

Another show I was eager to catch was Children of the Plumed Serpent, the Legacy of Quetzalcoatl. It was as I had hoped spectacular. It was very rich in luxury goods traded amongst different Mesoamerican people, polychromed pottery, dazzling gold work, mind boggling micro mosaics. Stunning. This funny little fellow, a censer is crafted to resemble a scribe, I figured  visitors to this site would be tickled by his pen and little shell holding pigment. He is in remarkable shape, 30 or so inches,  a handsome little bugger.

Effigy Censer, Maya, AD 1200-1500

The following is a fragment of a censer, he is so grave and  impressive.  I was very drawn to him, he will feature somewhere , somehow in a painting or drawing .

Censer Fragment, Mayan, AD 1200-1500

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in my old hometown, I am happy to be back in the studio. My little pug-dog Rose was quite peeved with my audacity-how dare I leave her in the care of her nanny? all day!  It has taken most of the day for her to “speak ” to me again, I’ve promised her I will lock myself in the studio, a slave to painting and to pugs.

Take care and have a marvelous weekend,

LG