Sunday, September 28, 2008

In The Name of the LORD

4.5 x 6.5, ink and Pantone Marker on canvas paper

Alrighty, first off, the vernissage went really really well!  So glad to see so many familiar (and not-so-familiar) faces.  From family to friends to strangers, the evening was spent in the company of great people.  I met some folks that I hope to hear from and am so glad I got to speak to some new and interesting people!  So all in all a success! (Oh, and of course, I managed to sell some works which is definitely a plus!)

The works I've decided to post today are the last from the show that I have yet to post on here*... My Dino-Popes and Big Baby J series.  These ink+pantone drawings were done around 1:00am out of a need to step away from my paintings just a few nights before the art show and, much to my surprise, they were some of my most popular works!  I attribute their popularity mainly to a combination of the subject matter and placement of the frames (see above photo).  

The message is fairly straight forward: papacy = prehistory.  Now for the slightly more subtle nuances: the way the works were placed had it so the popes were turned towards Jesus (who was also a dinosaur of course) in a way that emphasized their devotion to/praise of this single figure, as well as the symbol of the cross.  My main inspiration was the over-ornamentation/decoration of popes, which is in direct contradiction with one of the most basic Christian beliefs, namely humility, which is most easily exhibited externally by means of the simplicity of one's clothes.  The papacy has always been known for its extravagance, from the concentration of wealth in Rome to the mere outfits/costumes/hats of the popes.  Even though the idea that the people's money goes towards lavishly decorating a pope and his buildings in order to better praise the LORD seems like a reasonable argument to some, my feelings regarding the papal figure are not so optimistic... to say the least.

I've always felt there was something fishy about the idea of a religious institution organized and kept up in a political manner in the sense that the most "popular" participants are voted into different offices, ranked hierarchically from Pope to Cardinal, etc.  AND yet still consider themselves a source of legitimate authority by claiming divine ordination.  Maybe I lack faith in humans (or simply in general) but I have a hard time believing that that the type of charisma required to become/be elected as Pope is much different than the kind required to become a successful politician... UNLESS of course you believe that this one man's particularly appealing charisma was given to him BY GOD so that only he could possibly become the intermediary between earthlings and an all-knowing, all-being and eternally unified God existing outside of both space and time.

At this point I feel like my rant might be slowly moving down a slippery pope-bashing slope.  So in order to keep my sarcasm to a minimum and my blog somewhat intelligent, I will conclude in a quick, clean and fashionable manner.

SO, in conclusion!  While Hegel believed that history had reached its pinnacle before the end of his lifetime in 1831 (meaning human existence had achieved it's end-goal of freedom, which in turn meant that progress was no longer possible), Marx believed that until humans still participated in/contributed to oppression our existence would continue to consist of "pre-history".  It is that belief that informed my choice to portray the papacy as a group of prehistoric symbols of oppression.  And if you simply can't find a link between the papacy, the Roman Catholic Church and oppression, please, PLEASE e-mail me and we'll figure out a good time to meet up and talk about this over tea.

Ok, take care folks!xo


*Except a few more dogs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


20 x 28, acrylic

This is the fifth work of the Monstrous Children series. I've chosen to depict none other than... Romulus and Remus! These two rascals are believed to have been saved and nurtured by a she-wolf after their uncle Amulius attempted to kill them by sending them down the river Tiber in a basket... (When will people learn?! That never works!) Anyhow, the twins survived and were kept alive by this motherly she-wolf. This story is of particular significance because historians have traced the origins of Rome--and consequently the Roman Empire--back to these twins (see The Early History of Rome by Livy).
I find that this account of the origin of Rome offers an interesting contrast between the she-wolf and the twins (along with what they stand for). On one hand, the she-wolf is a strong and ferocious animal living and subsisting in the wild; a lifestyle which is representative of the ordered freedom found in nature. While on the other hand, Romulus and Remus, who are at first completely dependent on nature/the wolf for their survival, grow up to lay the groundwork for one of the largest empires in history... An empire from which the repercussions continue to resonate in the daily lives of people all around the world, including North Americans (particularly through the ripple effect of the Roman Catholic Church). Yet whether it be from a religious or political perspective, the impact the Roman Empire has had on history is enormous. If only in terms of the imperialist tone it has set for the West as a whole. While many empires have risen and fallen prior to the Roman Empire, some greater than the Roman Empire and some not, it remains that the Roman Empire has become a symbol of an excess of power leading to a tragic yet inevitable fall.  While I'm not denying that the Akkadian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Ottoman Empires (and the list goes on) were in fact incredibly epic, the Roman Empire, its fall, and its lasting aftermath remain key components to understanding our own society in relation to the history of the  "Western mentality".

But back to the artwork! This work was inspired by an ancient Roman sculpture (The Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus). I decided to dress up Romulus and Remus in modern clothes to emphasize the connection between the survival/upbringing/actions of the twins (dating back to 771 BCE) and the current affluent state of North American society. Here the twins are gorging themselves with the milk of the she-wolf to the extent that it begins to overflow from their mouths, while at the same time she appears emaciated from nourishing the twins without nourishing herself. The milk overflowing from their mouths represents a state of excessive luxury and consumption, as the twins are taking in more milk than they can handle. In other words, the twins are meant to reflect the abuse of "natural resources" by humans; as we take more than we need to satisfy a lifestyle characterised by excess.

Ok.. I've gone on for long enough I think.

I will see you all TOMORROW at Invisible Cinema!

Salve! xo

P.S. Because I know most of the people who will read this have not studied the beautiful (yet dead) language that is Latin, here is what "Romani non erant sine culpa" means: "The Romans were not without fault".  I'll let you make the connections..

Monday, September 22, 2008

Une vie de chien/ pour Paul

11x14, ink and paper 

Here are a few of the drawings I'll be showing at Invisible Cinema/ the Wurm Gallery this friday (September 26th).  These were really fun for me to do because I got to remember how enormous dogs feel when you're really young.  I played on that idea by showing little kids playing (or even sleeping) around and on the over-sized dogs, whom are at once watchful, dignified and loving.

T-minus 5 days until the show! xo

P.S. the paper is actually white.. it has this nice creamy color on here simply because I don't have any way to properly scan these images.. Such is life!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hell Comes Home

16 x 20, acrylic

This work was inspired by my opposition to the Biblical notion that humans have dominion over animals.  

"Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."  (Genesis 1:26)

The mentality implied in this passage, namely that humans have the divinely ordained right to rule over all spheres of sentient beings, contributes to the reason why North American society has reached one of its lowest points in terms of mass animal cruelty.  Why can humans feel free to kill/eat/skin/abuse/vivisect any and all animals?..(except Police Dogs and RCMP Horses).. Because God said so? Hmm..

I don't mean to sound preachy, but this is a topic that means a lot to me.. Well two topics really: animal rights and the critical deconstruction of the Bible. 

Ok I think that's enough Bible-bashing for now, it is only 9:00 am after all..

God bless xo

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ma-doe-nna and Child

main pannel: 12 x 16, acrylic
side pannels: 6 x 12, acrylic 

This is the fourth work of the Monstrous Children series.  I will most likely be showing/selling it as a triptych in a format that is reminiscent of an altar-piece.  This work is inspired by Eastern Orthodox icons, and while I'm far from being religious, I have to give props to the Christians of Byzantium for creating some seriously aesthetically pleasing works of art.. even with all the weird proportions.. what am I talking about; especially because of the weird proportions.

This work affirms that even Christ, as a child, would have thrown a tantrum if he had dropped his ice cream (had there been such a thing as ice cream during his childhood).  It very simply humanizes a figure that has for so many decades been, not dehumanized, but super-humanized.  Here the idea of a divinely cool, calm and composed Christ (even as a child) is exchanged for a more realistic and common depiction of a young (spoiled) child.  If anything, although considered heretical/blasphemous, to depict Christ in such a way, would be in line with the original message of Jesus--back when what we now know as Christianity was merely the "New Judaism"--as it evokes egalitarianism, as opposed to an entirely hierarchical view of the Christ figure.

I chose to depict Mary as a doe firstly because of the qualities I would associate with that animal: kind, caring, and gentle, and secondly because of the expression "doe-eyed", which refers to someone who appears innocent, or even credulous/unquestioning...  Attributes commonly associated with the figure of Mary.  All the while I sought to promote the importance of non-human beings with whom we share the earth, by putting a wild animal in the place of a central figure to one of the most influential world religions.  By placing a doe in Mary's place, I  wanted to re-direct the praise, respect and reverence given to a mytho-historical character, towards the wildlife, which is taken for granted by society. 

The two side panels also speak to that effect.  By replacing the figures who would normally be depicted in side panels (John the Baptist, Adam, Eve, Saints, Apostles, etc.) I am once again emphasizing the importance of non-humans... Both of which are animals associated with "pagan" mythology and worship.

Ok I've got lots of artworks to post on here, but I will try to space them out.  Mainly since I get the feeling that after the artshow (on September 26th, at Invisible Cinema-be there!) I will have to hit the books extra hard.  Ah well, such is life.

That's all for now.

Peace be upon you xo

Thursday, September 18, 2008

baby steps

all of the above: 8x10, acrylic

The culture of over-abundance/over-consumption, which is so prominent in North America, has inspired me to create the Monstrous Children series.  It consists of a few acrylic paintings that depict the (somewhat exaggerated) behaviors of children who have been raised always getting what they want.  Each child is eating a popsicle of some kind, which happens to be dripping all over their over-the-top outfits/costumes (i.e. not the kind of clothes conducive to running around in the mud).  Here the parents are to be held responsible for presenting their children with overbearing luxury from a young age...  An environment that is bound to promote some serious brattiness.  The positive side of the inspiration for these is that I actually do love children and think they're absolutely hilarious/brilliant.. most of the time.    

These works will be shown at the Wurm Gallery/Invisible Cinema (319 Lisgar) from September 26th to October 26th, alongside the  works of Adrienne Turner and Guen Douglas. 

It will be my first official art show, which is SO exciting! 

..Ok this is my first blog and I already feel I might spend more time on here than I should.  Although this blog-thing does seem more exciting than the dense Hegel essay sitting on my bed,  only one of the two is being graded.

Until next time! xo