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Old 04-11-2012, 12:57 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Kitty-Kitty

I have been working for some 3 years or more on a body of paintings that I have thought of, for better or worse, as "icons". These have been "erotic icons"... based almost exclusively upon the female nude... and originally inspired by the erotic sculpture of the Kandariya Mahadeva temple found at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, India. The various stylistic elements of these "icons" have been fueled by my on-going love affair with art history. The works include ideas drawn from Japanese screen painting and Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, Persian/Islamic paintings, Byzantine mosaics, early Italian Renaissance paintings (Giotto, Simone Martini, etc...), Ingres, Bonnard, Klimt, Picasso, Matisse, and others.

Most of the themes I have used in these paintings have come from classical mythology and Biblical narratives: the Adoration, Pandora's box, Magdalena, Prosperpina, the Temptation, the Annunciation, the 3 Muses, etc... Recently I have been struggling with how to bring these themes into the present. While I have never been a fan of Andy Warhol, this painting was particularly suggestive:



I was struck by the realization that yes! Marilyn Monroe... Hollywood celebrities... and the heroes of popular narratives... these are the "icons" of our time. Another painting that truly resonated with me was "Ed and 'Lil Kim" by Douglas Bourgeoise:



Growing up in New Orleans where various cultures rub shoulders with one another, Bourgeoise creates paintings that suggest a blurring of cultures. In "Ed and 'Lil Kim" the tradition of Catholicism can be seen in the setting... clearly borrowed from Fra Angelico's Annunciation:



In this instance, the Virgin Mary is replaced by Edgar Allen Poe, the great poet and story-writer who was the founder of the "Southern Gothic" style. Rather than being visited by the Angel of the Annunciation, "Ed" is visited by the vision of 'Lil Kim... an image of sexuality and the black musical culture so central to New Orleans.

For better of worse, I've begun to explore the notion of a series of "icons" in which the Greco-Roman and Biblical heroes have been replaces by popular icons, Hollywood celebrities, comic book superheroes, characters drawn from popular narratives and film, rock stars, porn stars, etc... Or at least such is the goal. This is the first work in that direction... I probably need not say anything more beyond technical descriptions...



This is a studio view which shows the mess made on the walls during the painting process. The painting, by the way, stands at 80x44"... over 7-feet tall. It is mixed media on paper (acrylic, pastel, color pencil, and gold leaf).





I included some details so as to convey some idea of the surface texture of the work.




Thanks for looking.
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Last edited by stlukesguild : 04-11-2012 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:32 PM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

David, I like the Warhol-Marilyn image isolated by the yellow surround. Whereas we are used to see it in the Warhol'esk repeated format, seeing it this way becomes stunning. It is like a statement about the loneliness of fame and more so by the sex-kitten 'everybody wants me' image of a star like Monroe. Yellow is usually a color of happiness so I am probably off in my interputation.

Did you purposly create the dog-gargoyle face to appear in the upper right hand corner?

Really nicely detailed composition with your "Ed and 'Lil Kim" painting. Your borrowing is so far from copying and maybe more like an inspired by painting. To use the 'Annunciation' and to refer to Edger Allan Poe as Ed are in keeping with the irreverence of your subject matter. Quite clever and a definite blurring of cultures, icons and revered imagery.

I love the eclecticism of the little detail objects like the Atomic clock on the wall, the Louis XVI chair inside with the fiberglass patio chair. I am suspecting the the paintings hold a lot more in the bigger version.

I was not able to determine what Lil Kim had in her hand ...maybe better not to ask ...LOL

Those superheroes Kitty-kittys wearing nothing more than the gold halo against the red background are a whole 'nother subject.

Nice to see some of your work over here in the Ab-Con Forum
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:19 AM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

Dave... I wish I had painted the painting of L'il Kim and Ed but as a noted in my original post, it (like the Warhol) was but an example of an artwork that pointed me somewhat in the direction in which I am currently heading. After a series of nudes... "erotic icons"... that employed the traditional Biblical and Greco-Roman themes, I recognize the need to build upon a common narrative... and I recognize that the Biblical and Greco-Roman narratives no longer fit this concept. This was something that T.S. Eliot recognized and eulogized in his classic poem, The Wasteland.

So where are the common narratives of today to be found... the "iconic" image and heroes of our time? As I suggested, they have (for better of worse) been replaced by Hollywood celebrities, comic book superheroes, characters drawn from popular novels (Alice in Wonderland) and film, rock stars, porn stars, etc... The painting, Kitty Kitty is but the first of my endeavors in this direction.

By the way... I shall add here an image that gives some concept of the scale of the paintings as I have been working on. My wife stands to the side of the painting along with a rather sizable ladder:

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Old 04-14-2012, 06:09 PM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

I admire your thoughtful approach to your work, as well as your technical skill. I look forward to seeing more on this iconic theme.
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:06 AM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

SLG: I like seeing your work, and your wife, and a bit of your studio. (Brings you down off that pedestal that I've put you on, and up onto a ladder instead). Actually, do you work standing on the ladder and isn't that difficult? Have you ever fallen off? Does the gold leaf get all over the place? Are these good kitties or bad kitties?

I like where you're going with your idea and I wish I had something smart to add, but as usual...no I don't. But I like this piece and am always happy to see more of whatever you do. (If I used emoticons, I would insert that little heart one here.)
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:09 AM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter Re: Kitty-Kitty

RTT... Thanks for the comments.

Olive... No... I don't work on that ladder. I just use it in hanging, raising, and lowering the paintings. I largely work standing with my feet firmly planted on the floor... or even sitting. I lower the painting as a whole when working in the upper regions. If necessary, I work on a footstool that is quite wide, sturdy, and comes with a tray where I can set a broad array of tools and media. I will admit that I have almost fallen off an older footstool that wasn't completely open and locked into place when I got up on it. It suddenly shifted, the cross braces snapped, and I jumped back and landed upright. Working on such a scale makes me truly appreciate the efforts of Giotto, Michelangelo, Piero della Francesca, and others up on scaffolds... and without the advantages of electric lights, gas blowers, and fans.

Gold leaf... Yes it certainly gets all over the place... both the leaf and the paper that it is ever so slightly adhered to. When I begin to attach the leaf I must shut off all fans... including the blower to the heater in the winter.

Are they bad or good kitties? Who knows? I leave that up to the viewer to decide. I can talk about my influences... what artists I am influenced by and/or building upon... but I have always hated the idea that the artist should spell out the meaning.
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:44 AM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

Always enjoy seeing your work. I may have said it before, but I enjoy your interior settings almost as much as your subjects. Superhero icons fit my psyche, as I was a comic book reader for many years. And I love the various narratives that can be inspired by this work in the viewer. It is as much fun to think about as it is to just explore the visual elements.

Very cool work!
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Old 04-26-2012, 08:51 PM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

Beautiful Work David, love the tiles and much admire the perspective
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:51 PM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

Rick... thanks for the feedback.

Daniel... I appreciate the comments. Good to see you're still around. How are your painting efforts coming?
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Old 04-28-2012, 09:20 AM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

I think the batman masks are what this series needed. Before, to me, they seemed rather like the women or the situation the women were in was like being a voyeur to something wrong.. I don't know that that is bad though, as almost everything is fair game in art these days. I think with the masks, it adds a whimsy and breaks the barrier from feeling like a voyeur, to being a part of something fun and bubbly..at least that is the way I interpret it.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:48 PM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

Tim... thanks for the comment. I agree that the addition of the masks pushes this painting away from the traditional "nude" and toward some suggestion of a narrative. Even more-so, I think the concept of employing characters or attributes of characters from popular culture is closer in line with my intention of offering a twist upon the idea of the "icon". Considering that the characters and their attributes (drawn largely from Biblical and Greco-Roman mythological narratives) of the traditional icons would have been immediately recognizable to the larger audience, the use of characters from modern sources such as popular novels (Alice in Wonderland), TV, Film, and comic books make a great deal of sense to me. I'm currently toying with an image involving Batman and Wonder Woman.
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:00 AM
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Re: Kitty-Kitty

Oops! I thought I commented on this last week. The masks do add narrative and the fun thing is we can imagine why they're wearing them and who or what they're both looking at. Beautiful work stluke!
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