Genesis

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.

Greco_Genesis

Genesis

2014

oil on canvas

30 by 40 inches

My Spotted Hunahpu

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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

Primavera

2014

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.

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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.

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Be well, Lg

A Day ( and Night) of the Hero Twins ; NSFW, caution marionettes with naughty bits

My  Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque are now finished and awaiting proper stringing. I don’t anticipate too many problem,  my fingers crossed, but in the meantime I thought I would play around with the little mannequins. They are quite flexible and fall into clever and at times quite salacious positions. Good for them. 

IMG_4954Hero Twin marionettes

2014

Sculpey and metal and aluminum foil armature, paint, steel wool, string

12.5 inches tall

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They both have little necklaces, and bracelets and fancy boots; for naked boys they like to accessorize.

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A Tom of Finland pose if there ever was one. 

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For as long as I have been working with the Hero Twin archetype, their tongue twisting names have befuddled me. Xbalanque, of the jaguar spots is depicted in such a way as to exhibit his animal nature ; poor Hunahpu is spotted as a reminder of his time amidst the Dead.

Living in LA I see gorgeous tattoos on a regular basis, I was inspired by the local color in tagging my fellows; now at last I will be able to identify the Twins quickly and easily.

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I’m happy with the boots-yet another salacious shot.

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 End o’ day.

I will string them and I will record their movement, but for now they are at rest.

Be well, Lg

 

 

 

In Nomine Patris: Reclaiming the Old Gods

This triptych is part of my ongoing exploration of the clash between two  cultures, that of the Mesoamerican indigenous people and the conquering Spaniard Roman Catholics.  Time and again I am struck by the similarities between the two seemingly incompatible peoples. Their religious traditions revolving around sin, the fall of Man, redemption through blood sacrifice and resurrection bringing forth new life.

I wanted to explore these similarities, and differences through archetypal devices namely triptych construction, ecclesiastic, architectonic form, prayer cards and votive candles.  Working with traditions brought to (forced upon) native cultures I wanted to examine the notion of the old gods claiming the forms for themselves.  As if the priests of Tenochtitlan had not been slaughtered by the Spaniards but had in fact survived and adapted  Western  cultural norms for their own use. The following print In Nomine Patris might have been such a result of that cultural synthesis.

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On  the left,  one of the Hero Twins, Hunahpu; on the right his brother Xbalanque;  in the center their father, the sacrificed Maize God, Hun Hunahpu.

Through his sacrifice, his redemption by the Hero Twins and his resurrection, maize is brought to Man.

 In Nomine Patris

18 by 27 inches

relief print on paper

My printmaking class is winding down, I’ve made a  drawerful of plates, many prints; even a few I  like.   I had hoped to close the semester with a more elaborate version of this triptych. Ultimately this print will be colored using the pochoir technique and enhanced by applied additions. But for now, as the semester ends, it will be chastely  black and white. 

Th following print, The Gates of Xibalba can stand on its own, but it is also designed to interact with the triptych as actual sacristy gates.

IMG_3878The Gates of Xibalba

relief print on paper

According to tradition the lords of the Underworld are devious, randy and stupid; I tried to capture that spirit.

The following is an artist’s proof of the assemblage of the triptych and the gates. I will need to figure logistics, shall it be flat, shall it be cut out like a toy theatre, it should certainly be colored. All must wait until I have access to a press next semester.

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The alignment of the sacristy doors to the sacrificed  Maize God was serendipitous; or the plan of the old gods.

In addition to the triptych I planned prayer cards, familiar to Roman Catholics world wide. My first is of the Maize God, Hun Hunahpu, sadly I misspelled his tongue-twisting name. As he is the god of maize, life and fecundity, once again an erect ear of corn seemed naughtily appropriate.

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Blesses Hun Hunuhpu (sic)

relief print on paper

Going from prayer card to votive candle seemed a natural evolution. Here in southern California votive candles emblazoned with Roman Catholic saints are ubiquitous , found not only in bodegas but in mainstream grocery stores, even Target. I thought it was time for the Maize God to have his  own moment to shine. More gods/goddesses to come.

IMG_3889I haven’t much business sense but I imagine this would sell.

Speaking of which I sold (fingers crossed)my first piece of work, a print, since “retiring”  from decorative painting.  I would still make work whether it sold or not, but having a buyer is confirmation indeed, I’m pleased and grateful.

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The votive candle in place amidst his Catholic friends.

With that good news I close, take care and be well,

LG

Final Painting of 2012, Resurrection of the Father

I have for several months been working on a rather large painting in between my printmaking assignments. I am afraid it has been treated a bit like the ugly step-child.

As I am now on winter break I was eager to give the painting the attention I thought it deserved. My intention was to create a simpler, more direct narrative. Working on a larger painting was far less challenging than my previous paintings; having spent 2o some years painting murals I am far more comfortable with big. Small paintings leave me feeling cramped, perhaps that may explain the somewhat less successful earlier paintings. I do know that I hope to continue with at least 40 by 50 inch format in the future.

I have called the painting The Resurrection of the Father, please pardon the terrible quality of the image.

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The Resurrection of the Father

oil on canvas

40 by 50 inches

The painting was inspired by my continuing fascination with the Popol Vuh narrative; in this instance when the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque retrieve the remains of their sacrificed father Hun Hunahpu. Working with my well worn maquettes I created a simpler composition than I have in the past.

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I did not fashion my Maize God as I have before, instead I took my inspiration from an early fertility figure found in the Columbia River region of western Oregon. I stumbled upon this treasure when David and I visited Portland Art Museum last summer, we were both enchanted by the priapic fellow. As we are planning to move to Portland in 2014 or so, he seemed a suitable totem for our mutual aspirations.

1999_58Stone Figure

Columbia River region

ca.1000-1500 A.D.

Basalt, 55 1/2 x 17 x 6 1/2 in.

source

I am now in the throes of another painting , readying for an interview with an art school in Portland and of course the upcoming Spring semester. I am also trying to enjoy the final hours of 2012. Wishing all of my blogging chums a very happy 2013! 

Until next year,

be well,

LG

Gligamesh and Enkidu and other beefy fellows.

 

Printmaking is progressing onwards, seventh week already; received  my first grade for  the etching/aquatint segment of course.  I’m pleased with the grade.

I’m less pleased with my actual mastery of this tricky medium, trying to be patient and enjoy the discoveries.

It would be lovely if I were a relaxed, easy going southern Californian like  my fellow students, everything that is produced is “G-r-e-a-t!!!!”.

Their enthusiasm is exhausting.

Anyway, the following  print was designed to showcase my understanding of the various techniques taught within the last few weeks.

I upped the ante a bit by choosing a larger plate (9 by 12) and focusing on drypoint which everyone in class including the teacher seems to shun; I love the technique. The techniques are a soft ground transfer, with drypoint and aquatint ; the aquatint failed multiple times to produce sufficiently dark value- the plate became warped and the rosin would not settle properly. I compensated with drypoint.

The Vanquished Humbaba
etching
9 x12
1/3

The above image was printed in a particularly pretty blue, I also ran a run in graphite, pretty color, but a bit weak.

graphite run

Actually, I rather like the color.

My first proof was just the soft ground etching, which I liked, reminded me of a very primitive Flaxman print.

first proof

We initially begin the project with a value drawing.

Initial preparatory drawing for the “Vanquished Humbaba”

My inspiration for the print was from a spectacular Syrian bas relief of the 10th or 9th century; I’m crazy for its archaic quality and its humor.

Syrian basalt relief

Gilgamesh and Enkidu Slaying Humbaba

basalt relief, from palace of King Kapara at Toll Halaf, Syria.

10th-9th cent. B.C.

When I began this class I also began a large painting, 50 by 60 inches. Taking Clive’s advice I decided to move the action forward (the Syrian relief an inspiration). I made use of my Hero Twin maquettes and have been busy painting since.  I am nearing completion.

Until I post the final image I thought I would tease with my preparatory sketch.

Preparatory sketch for the “Resurrection of the Father” with maquettes of the Hero Twins.

Well I must get on with my day, an evening class but first a studio day to work out a plan for for mono prints, our next adventure!

 Take care, LG

“X” is for Xquic

Progressing forward on the Primer of New Spain.

As I mentioned last time I will be jumping about the alphabet. As I began with “A”, “X” seemed the logical choice. I chose Xquic, the princess of Xibalba. For those who have followed this narrative , and not been daunted by the tongue twisting names, you will remember she is the heroine of the Popol Vuh narrative. Having miraculously given birth  to the Hero Twins, I present her enthroned upon an “X” chair.

“X” is for Xquic
2012
watercolor on paper
16 by 20 inches

The following is a detail (as the image is rather small) of Xquic and her sons the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque. As I progress in this series I continue to paint the Twins blue. There isn’t  a tradition for this, I just like the effect, an homage to Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

detail of Xquic and the Hero Twins

This may be the last post for a bit, trying to tie up loose ends as we are leaving for a brief Independence Day holiday. We are going to Portland Oregon, it seems such a pretty and progressive place; far different temperament and climate from oppressive San Diego. We are both excited to get out of Dodge.

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