In early July, I will be releasing a new drawing series, titled ULYSSES. The drawings will explore themes from Homer's Odyssey in charcoal and pastel. If you're a subscriber to my Studio Newsletter be on the lookout early next week. If you're not already, follow the link below.
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Drawing 499, charcoal and conte on paper, 12 x 9", 2018, private collection, Toronto, Canada
A cruel father... a vengeful mother... an ambitious son...
Families can be complex, even, according to mythology, at the Dawn of Creation. After imprisoning their monstrous children in the depths, the Sky was dealt harsh punishment by the Earth at the hands of their son, the young Titan Saturn.
Saturn Cleaving the Sky, latex paint on canvas, 60 x 55, 2018
I've always been fascinated by the concept of "Standing Stones" or "Menhir" - mysterious stone monoliths spread across the world. Thousands of years old and with debatable origins and purposes (ranging from boundary markers, sites of religious rites, astronomical or seasonal calendars) they nevertheless occupied an extremely important role in early people's lives. We know this due to the amount of work that must have been required to transport the stones to their locations, and the fact that many of them remain intact and upright to this day.
A standing stone in Ireland. Photo source
Often solitary, they can also be found forming a circle (or henge), in rows, or creating loose structures known as "Dolmens".
The scale, mystery, age and importance of these stones have always resonated with me. Their heaviness, both literal and figurative, as well as their isolation in the elements and endurance in time are something to be marveled at. Furthermore, their allusions to the figure are obvious. I can't help but look at them and suspect that at least some small part of their purpose was to appear like standing giants. It is this strength, endurance, mystery and isolation that I've often sought to translate into my figure paintings. Below are some examples that I feel capture these qualities well.
Inheritance, latex paint on canvas, 36x48", 2016
The Suppliant, latex paint on canvas, 48 x 36", 2018
The suppliant of antiquity sought protection or mercy at the alter of gods or at the feet of kings. The once great hero Iolaus, cousin and adventuring partner of Heracles, was one such suppliant portrayed in the play "The Heracleidae" by Euripedes. Now a refugee, with the endangered family of the deceased Heracles in toe, the aged man finds his last resort at the alter of Zeus near Athens. That perennial enemy of Heracles, Eurystheus has pursued the group all over Greece, threatening all who might give them respite. Will the king of Athens, a son of Theseus, or the gods help them in their plight, or will Iolaus find his old strength again?
The Brawler, latex paint on canvas, 36 x 48", 2018
Robust and powerful, this figure captures the moment a brawler throws a punch with the weight of his body behind, while guarding himself protectively with the other fist.
St. George Slaying the Dragon, latex and acrylic paint on canvas, 55 x 43", 2018, private collection, Toronto, Canada
Drawing 514, oil pastel and graphite on paper, 24 x 18", 2018
Drawing 515, oil pastel and graphite on paper, 18 x 24", 2018
Drawing 513, oil pastel and graphite on paper, 18 x 24", 2018
Like many artists that have come before me, and the many that will follow, I have long been inspired and awed by the figures of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment". My recent painting "Stricken Man" owes a specific debt to this iconic and amazing piece below.
Detail from Michelangelo's "Last Judgment", Sistine Chapel Alter, Rome
The self-contained conflict of this piece is remarkable and sparks infinite speculation about the figure portrayed. A pale comparison, of course, but my "Stricken Man" takes its influence from this figure's mysterious inner turmoil.
Stricken Man, latex paint on canvas, 30x48", 2018
Though not a literal translation of the mythical Minotaur, the figure in this painting is intended to serve as an emotional portrait of the ill-fated character. Confrontational and alone, the Minotaur peers out at the viewer, somewhere between beast and man. The malice is still present, but at the moment he appears perhaps vulnerable, himself a victim of his unnatural circumstances.
The graphic strokes around the head are a suggestion of the famous horns. Seen in context with my 2016 piece "Theseus and the Minotaur", this piece plays an earlier part in the drama, when the Minotaur roams the Labyrinth unchallenged by the might of the great hero Theseus.
The Minotaur, latex paint on canvas, 36x48", 2018