PATHETIC FALLACIES, 1997

The vulnerable and the immune

in a moment opportune

for reversal

 Pathetic Fallacies is a painting cycle that features allegorical animals caught in the act of self- sacrifice, suicidal commitment, or in stunts in which they are captive. They are displayed in the excesses of their conditioning and suffering from selective mutations grown to absurd proportion. Iconic in their isolation, these creatures are engulfed by an unadulterated, minimalist, linen ground.

 

The Closed Mouth, 2003, Oil on Belgian Linen, 78” x 78”.

In Samuel Clemens' The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, the protagonist fills his opponent’s frog with buckshot, causing it to lose the competition.  The image of a bloated frog filled with ammunition remains a poignant metaphor for US foreign policy.  While alluding to the Twain short story, the larger than human scale painting is an allegory of consumption, constipation and the dangers inherent in an isolationist aggression in international affairs.  As may be seen in the details provided, the portrait is of a proud, bloated, silent (dumb) king of its own mountain, feasting on the living within its expansive jurisdiction. 

On a formal level, the cycle of "Pathetic Fallacies" features isolated creatures with an attribute of excess within a barren environment.  The naked linen harken to the Buddhist/Taoist void that activates being, which further highlights the violence inherent in “The Closed Mouth”.  It is the only piece in the cycle in which the creature contains rather than beingcontained -- by the decontextualized vacant surround.

Downsizing, 1997, Oil on Belgian Linen, 78 x 54 inches

A large rat gnaws through its monstrous tale. This action may be read as a life affirming escape from its tethered condition or as a suicidal gesture toward the ultimate fall. Downsizing refers to an economy that lays off its workers at the expense of inflated CEO salaries and short-term profits. 

 

The Locusts Keep Calling, 1997, Oil on Belgian Linen, 78 x 62 inches

My brother, who died of HIV in 1996, was born in the Asiatic year of the rabbit.  Shortly before his resignation from his job he overheard his colleagues betting on how many days he had left to live.  The subtitle to The Locusts Keep Calling is Consciousness Kills.  The deafening drone of the Locust is the call of the sirens, the stimulant of the flesh, the enticement to death.  The swollen sensors of the demure rabbit more collectively refer to a state of awareness in the “developed” world” where we hear of sufferings the world over and typically remain impotent to remedy them.  What are the psychosexual consequences for those who listen too much?

 

Outgrown, 1997, Oil on Belgian Linen, 78" x 62".

Painting is the art of arrest, and in Born(e), the subject is caught in the awkward condition of being unable to fly or walk. The expansive webbed feet of an afflicted cormorant are too heavy to ascend and too enormous to function on the ground.

The world wide web (a misnomer if there ever was one*) promises flight, a new air of connectedness and conquest. Is this atmosphere one we are born into or forced, like Sisyphus to perpetually carry?

* A generation or so ago half the world had never made a phone call, much less engage with the technocratic elite.

 

In His Own Image: Intellectual Property Rights, 1998 (a related drawing), ink and acrylic on paper,, 10 x 22 inches.