Thursday, 31 July 2008


oil on canvas 96"x 60"

I painted this in 1985 when I was artist-in residence at a local hospital. I had a huge, mothballed, Victorian ward all to myself. The painting is one of a series addressing the, then unresolved, decision as to how to create a monument to those Americans who died in the Vietnam war.
I had a book at that time -

CAPPS, WALTER H. The Unfinished War: Vietnam and the American Conscience
Boston: Beacon Press, (c.1982). The author, after "tracking the course of Vietnam's influence on American life, institutions, and religious beliefs, probes the splintered mythologies of both left and right. He brilliantly brings together the war's evolution, its devastating effects on our national sense of mission, and the widespread spiritual malaise that followed the truce.". Very Good in Good+ dj .

- which inspired me to create a diptych (two paintings forming one work). In the end I painted 10 large ones and some smaller ones. They never sold and the lack of interest in them has always surprised me. I have always felt that the 'flying cigar label' is a tremendously potent image - as a projection of American power and influence and also as a defining image of war. Remember the Enola Gay? It may be that some extreme religious groups see this symbol as Evil since it includes a pentagram and is seen on war planes.

This though was not in my mind when I created it. The paintings refer to Rothko's emotionally charged abstract landscapes. This becomes clearer as the series develops.

The image incorporates a second symbol that intends to reconcile war with peace and is, in fact, a quatrefoil widow as seen in Gothic architecture. Through the window we see an idealised landscape, simplfied as a child might draw or paint it. War and peace, Heaven and earth, Innocence and experience - reconciliation. Closure

The canvas shown above was the first in the series and luckily when I was flinging paint at the central 'window' it landed to form a bird's eye and the thing is - it looks just like the dove of peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment