This is a newly completed painting, which I started almost a year ago in pre-pandemic times and completed as the second Covid19 wave creeps in. It’s titled, “Welcome to Paradise in a Beautiful World.” It’s oil on linen, and measures 60 x 46 inches. The title is somewhat satirical and slightly mocking of the times we live. Being welcomed to “paradise” in a “beautiful” world seems rather questionable and perhaps unsettling but the meanings are wide ranging. I mostly enjoy hearing what others have to say about my works but I’m happy to provide some context and share my inspiration in part.
The painting is very complex. I was inspired by many things and feelings, perhaps the obvious is “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais and “Venus” by Titian. The woman and her accompanying symbolic menagerie of forest dwelling creatures, mainly birds and more specifically male cardinals are all potentially beautiful, playful, cunning, powerful, lovely, evil, wicked and wondrous alike in their own ways. The forest and its creatures are a way for me to visit my past as well as my present but beyond that the woman and other animals serve as metaphors for human behavior and for people in my life. The feelings that prompted it and fueled me throughout are not always easy to talk about as they are multi-layered, complex and contradictory.
I make every attempt at loading my paintings with historical, mythological and as usual pop cultural influences and this piece as well as all the other paintings created over the past year are layered with pre-pandemic as well as current sociopolitical influences. It is clicking on many cylinders - powered by my devotion to the natural world and the subversive potential of beauty. Memories, personal and public narratives as well as imaginative conflicts abound. This painting is part of a series on the concept of the contemporary princess, where identity, beauty, and life and death meet and where the Pre-Raphaelites, Disney and the Renaissance intersect.