New Work

Summer 2020: Like many artists, I have been “enjoying” a period of lock-down and moderate isolation. Since I am quite used to spending time alone in the studio, this has not meant a major change to my routines. Cancelled travel plans were a minor inconvenience: I recently visited Venice for the Biennale (November 2019) and traveled elsewhere in Europe and Canada within the last year (see the “Travel” section).  The positive side is that  I have had additional time to focus on the studio. Work continues on several oil paintings (a set of Icons, as featured in the Gallery section). I have also been working on a set of digital prints based on the Voyage of Alice to the Island of the Dead.

Below: work in progress on what will eventually be a 12 x 36 inch digital print; the print is based on one image from a set developed around the idea of a journey to the Island of the Dead (influenced in part by German Romanticism of course).

The digital image is based on a 3-D model, painstakingly hand-constructed. I.e. over a period of several months I built the scene up bit by bit, adding tiny details like individual tombs and trees on the island, flowers on the coffin (on the boat) etc. Even the Tower of Babel is "hand built" from scrap parts. This detail of the boat gives a clearer idea - grunge filters etc are added later. (The 3-D software is DAZ Studio.)

Here are a few additional views of the 3-D set-up for the Island of the Dead series.

Early spring, 2020: I have been working on a commission for a magazine cover based on the Great Whore of Babylon. The result was a set of digital images and oil paintings; work on the series is on-going.

The figures in this set might be thought of as a sort of Black Madonna - i.e. a "lost" quadrant of the pantheon with a decidedly Dionysian aspect. For the magazine cover she is seated in front of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (based on a painting by Lucas Cranach).

This theme – i.e. the Black Madonna – has gone through a number of iterations (as I continue to work with it). Attentive viewers will be aware of the tradition of the Black Madonnas; as mentioned above, the “blackness” seems to signify her association with the Dionysian side of creation.  In this respect she has a clear relationship with Isis, Persephone, Nut (Egyptian goddess of the night), Ishtar etc. (I am inclined to see also consider “Alice” as one of the Goddesses of the Underworld.)

In the earliest versions the "Madonna" was more of an "Alice" figure (which explains the hookah). The chalice with serpents associates her traditionally with the Book of the Apocalypse; the blackness resulted from an accidental experiment with photo filters.

Currently on the Easel

As work on the Great Whore of Babylon and other projects continues in my digital studio, I also continue to work on several paintings (oil/acrylic on canvas). The one on the right is perhaps 2/3 finished; it is based in part on a painting by Crivelli (Italian painter from the 1400s); the one on the left is in its earliest stages.

z Feb