Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coventry Gardens

16" x 20" oil on board, painted recent while on Geodone

I don't know where in the world Coventry Gardens is, I suspect England. In my imagination it is an ordered place, a beautiful place, and the perfect place in which to make anxiety provoking things happen. I do love the combination of beauty and violence.

The two central figures are reaching out toward one another. Since their horses are moving in opposite directions they will not be able to clapse hands. In the air a giant eagle lifts a dead horse. In the foreground is a dead, decapitated corpse.

My mother took issue with the corpse. She said, why put such a horrible thing in a painting? So I doubted myself. In the back of my mind I would always like my paintings to be able to be displayed at the local library. In such a public place there are standards to how much violence or sexuality you can depict. Very little. I did make the gender of the two naked figures on horseback ambiguous. And after my mother's comment I went one step further and in the rough draft of the painting, painted over the decapitated figure. At that point I looked at the painting and felt that it lacked something. I could have painted a flower over the figure. But a flower does not send the same thrill up the spine like a dead person. I like drama in a picture. So I painted back in the figure exactly like I had painted it at first.

I had to invent the trees in the garden. Vine and blossom covered. Very precisely pruned into geometric shapes. The spreading vines are a consequence of nature unbound. The repeating trees all shaped the same way is an example of civilized, controlled nature. It always pleases me to have opposing elements in the same picture.

I painted the grand building in the background purple. This painting, of course, is seeped in fantasy and it is a fantasy building.

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