Friday, June 13, 2008
"I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone." ~Lord Byron
"Father, Hospital", oil on canvas, 12"x12", was painted when, not surprisingly, my father was in the hospital. My family had been going through a turbulent time with health challenges and my father was kind enough to let me shoot reference of him for a painting. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had declined, but he accepted. I appreciated this gesture in light of his fragility at that moment. Of all of the paintings I did for the "Passages" exhibition, this one is my favorite. It is also the smallest piece. However, I firmly believe that you do not need six foot high canvases to evoke a reaction. Sometimes the smallest pieces can be the heaviest.
I have my trusty book of Lucian Freud's paintings by me as I painted this, and virtually every piece that I do. He paints flesh incredibly and I am very much inspired by the man.
The curtain behind my father obscured a man who was gravely ill, dying in fact. The curtain that separates life from death is often very thin and just because we cannot see something does not mean it does not exist. Our own mortality is closer than we realize and I think that the man behind the curtain has perhaps shuffled off this mortal coil since the piece was painted. I do not know, I will never know. Perhaps it is for the best.
The other interesting element in this painting is the juxtaposition of the hospital gown that my father has on and his cherished brown sweater. I have painted him in this sweater before and here it is again, perhaps as a form of protection. I liked the contrast between something clinical, ubiquitous and signifying frailty and an item beloved and familiar like the sweater.
Lastly his body posture is very telling...he appears bent under a heavy weight. Perhaps the viewer can identify with this apparent burden in whatever permutation they apply to the situation. I would like to think that this piece, more than many of my works, depicts the human condition most poignantly.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger. " ~Friedrich Nietzsche