Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Story of a Painting


On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, we all awoke to the reality that America had chosen for the most important and hardest job in the world a man who is utterly unqualified, who proudly doesn't read, who inherently hates government unless it can help his business prospects and channel his bigotry, who is erratic, narcissistic, sexually predacious, deeply Machiavellian, and dangerously impulsive.  We chose him over a woman.  The woman had the faults that come with being an establishment candidate.  But she was immensely qualified, intelligent, and stable.  We chose one of the worst public men in America over one of the most admired and prepared public women in America.  We did that.

I worked on this painting during the evening of election day and finished it on that awful Wednesday.  In terms of genre, it's simply one of my usual "bust portraits"--I'm working here on skin tone, on shading and shaping, following my usual love affair with light.

As I worked, I couldn't help feeling like my own despair, my own sadness and hurt over my country's rash choice-making, was working into the painting.  In the photo from which the painting arises, the model looks more sultry than sad.  In this portrait, I see my own shock and confusion.

And I almost never have painted a model's tattoos.  Here, I found that I could not not paint her Wonder Woman arm-band tattoo.  She is still Wonder Woman, underneath her clothes and in spite of a cruel repudiation.  She is still Wonder Woman.  I will still be here, the painting says to me: I will still be here, with the beauty and dignity of my body and with my fierce pride in it and in my own power.  Slumbering fierceness can awaken jagged energy.  

I love this painting.  It offers a new level of art for me.  I would call it a political commentary if that didn't sound so calculated.  It is a spontaneous message of hurt and defiance.

I would put my body on the barricades for this Wonder Woman and all Wonder People who demand justice and humanity from this world.

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