Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dan Brown

So Dan Brown is coming out with a new novel. September 15th is the release date--a mere two weeks prior to my 9/30 birthdate. Feel free.

I'm not a big Dan Brown fan, although I've read both "Angels & Demons" and the really famous one. But he does make you want to turn the page and keep reading, and that's something. And I do, I suppose, owe him (incrementally) for these:

They are, respectively, "The Agony of St. Agnes" and "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa." Both were painted during and immediately following my reading of "Angels and Demons." So I guess I owe him for that. I come and go on St. Agnes as a painting, but I can tell you that the look on her face felt at the time very much to me like proof positive that painting the way I paint was going to be a good idea.

Oh God, oh God, oh God,

If you rotate it, it could almost be a scene from the Crucifixion.

The words Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? certainly jump to mind. Which, if you're not paying attention, is Aramaic. Maybe.

Anyway, I always thought that if any of my paintings was going to get me that Vatican gig, it was "The Agony of St. Agnes."

As far as "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa" is concerned, it may not be obvious that it's about 13 feet long, executed on two panels. I had just returned from the Gauguin show in Boston, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2003 (the plus/minus on this date could easily be two years) and I was really feeling those jungle siennas and yellow-greens and turquoises. I won't go into the relationship between painting one panel in color, one in black and white and the dualism of sainthood other than to say that there's a relationship between painting one panel in color, one in black and white and the dualism of sainthood.

Me? I love the breadth of the thing. (When I lived on 106th Street I didn't have a wall big enough for it so I wrapped it around a corner. Which was really just outstanding.) I love the almost topographical feel of the thing. It's tectonics, if you will. The done-to-death-but-still-totally-compelling notion of the reclined nude body as landscape.

Here's a photo of a friend that I'm using for a painting:

I'm calling it "Dancer #3 (Reclining--Chelsea Hotel)". Would this also be a good time to say that I love my job?

Anyway, it's a lot less freaky without the face whited out (although there is a pretty interesting Francis Bacon thing going on here), but discretion, I think, is what's called for here. Close readers can perhaps remember my steadfast refusal to show the photo of Waitress #5 I used to paint her picture. This, with a boost from technology, is something like that.

Now, imagine yourself on a train in a station. Good. Now imagine the background of Dancer #3 painted in the same dark, dark gray as St. Theresa's. Good. I love the languid question mark drawn by the line extending from her nipple across the length of the photo, beneath her neck, then curling up the inside of her forearm and fingers. And there, in the middle of the thing, is her (you'll have to take my word for it) beautiful face.


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