Tuesday, March 22, 2011

For those who missed the TU show

Curry Shark (10x8in acrylic on canvas, 2010)

Yo. Check this shark out, he loves curry somethin' serious! He and the other two paintings in this post were featured alongside the Research On Control series, Definitions of the Self, and another work, Urban Typographic Topography (who, due to a partially reflective surface, is hard to photograph and might not make it into the digital world), at the TU gallery show last month. The 's' doesn't stand for shark, and the white handwritten text denotes a few of the ingredients from an old shark curry recipe I found once.

The Prince (20x40in acrylic and aerosol on canvas, 2011)

The Prince (detail)

This work, entitled 'The Prince' (after Machiavelli's written work that was given to Lorenzo de Medici as advice on how to attain and maintain power), is a work that came together to represent a certain set of views on the concept of ambition. The painting is made up of symbols and references to stories about ambition, and contains a fair amount of text, all of which is written in Latin. The sword above the young stag's head is a reference to the Sword of Damocles, a tale from Cicero about a man named Damocles. He is a member of a certain king's court, and he admires and envies the king's power loudly. The king, to everyone's suprise, tells Damocles that he may take the throne. Damocles is of course overjoyed and accepts. Secretly, the king hangs a large sword above the throne by a single horse's hair, liable to snap at any moment, before Damocles ascends to power. When Damocles takes the throne and looks up, he realizes the king's lesson, and the moral of the story - "Heavy is the head who wears the crown", for power and success often make you a target, and to maintain it you must be ever vigilant, and true rest may not come easily. I for one don't take this as a warning against achieving success, but more advice getting one ready for the things that come with it. The crown floating just above the stag's head is a symbol of the power and success he chases - a young buck ready to fight for dominance of the herd and become the king, the trophy of the pack, and thus the target for every other stag in the herd, not to mention the hunters in the forest. As the stag gets closer to his goal, the crown, the danger of the sword becomes ever more relevant.

I chose to write the text in this work in Latin because I wanted to show how old of an idea this is, and also to some degree how esoteric. Like Latin these ruminations on ambition are ancient, and oft forgotten or mistranslated. On the sword is written 'mea maxima culpa', which translates literally to 'my greatest mistake'. This is what hangs over all of our heads, the one great mis-step we might make to send us tumbling down off of our achievements and rid us of our glories. Written all over the stag's body is 'vivat rex' which translates loosely to 'God save the king'. Between the stag's head and the crown is written the phrase 'ambitio virtute' which means the power or potential of ambition, the force drawing the young stag towards the crown, his audacious goal. The definition of himself that he carries written on his back is 'nemo tam ambitiosus', loosley 'no-one so ambitious'. This work means a lot to me, especially considering the struggles I have going on in my family life at the moment, thus the laborious explanation and somewhat tangled concept. It took a long time to paint - I had to brush up on some deer anatomy, and also partway through the piece I made a big mistake (a maxima culpa of sorts I guess) and had to restart from scratch, background included, which was pretty humbling. Actually, you'll get to see the whole process soon as the documentary that was filmed about me getting ready for the gallery show is almost done!

Military Intelligence (12x9in acrylic on canvas, 2010)

This is a painting I did late last year about war and is an attempt to express the cloudiness of boundaries, the fuzzy thinking and deceptive logic, and the confused and too often uninformed decisions that are made which cost millions of people their lives to the violence of war. I didn't mean this to be a condemnation of the military, which some people have taken it as, but as an attempt to illustrate the convoluted cycle of information and intelligence in war and its consequences, but I'm not sure I was successful - I think there are conceptual and compositional choices that could have been made more strongly, and the concept is perhaps too big for a painting that small, at least for me.

Poster and flyers for 5 Artists 1 Love show this year (never found out who designed them)

So, with the 5 artists 1 love show done, I've been keeping my focus on school, the documentary, and a couple side projects with friends, and getting ready for the next big event, which is Artwalk later this summer. I'm also thinking of applying to another local festival which is coming up called Nextfest, which could be a dope opportunity to show the work and try to communicate to a broader audience. Ok, well I'm out, so to once again take a page out of my homie Jarett's book, here's a link to your unrelated song of the day - right now life is giving me a couple lemons, and ain't nothin' make lemonade like some hiphop music, so peep this Atmosphere song.

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