March 30, 2013

Not Exactly Frida Kahlo

I used to wonder how an artist like the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo could have had the patience to make such detailed paintings while experiencing so much discomfort from her injuries and illnesses. I’ve since found that getting lost in details can prolong the distraction from the symptoms of illness. So that is why I’ve been making drawings with so many intricate patterns that they can take up to three days to complete. It helps. And the best part about the drawing is that there is a product at the end of the slow but steady effort.

In my drawing of this figure in an interior featured above, many details are allusive. The Tibetan Tiger rugs on the floor remind me of my unaccepted invitation to go to Tibet. I sometimes think of trips not taken now that I am not mobile. Fortunately I did travel extensively in my lifetime but of course now that travel days have ended it is difficult not to have a few regrets about the trips that could have been and the sights not seen. So now I take virtual trips through personal memories and the not so personal but blessed internet. I did have a memory of seeing these Tibetan Tiger rugs while in China in the 1980's but used the internet today to rediscover their form.

The figure in my drawing was an old friend and patron now living in Columbia, SC. She had offered to pose for me when I was working on my small square canvases for what was then my series of one hundred squares for the millennium project back in the 1990's. I reached my quota before she had a chance to enter the select one hundred. But a few years ago, when I wrote my poems to accompany the one hundred paintings, I decided to replace a few of these paintings. So I asked Ann if she would like to pose for the new paintings. She did and I made a few drawings, selecting one to use as a model for the square painting. I posted this one earlier along with the revised drawing. The drawing featured today is a completion of the sketch not used - just like my road trips not taken. The tigers on the floor point the way into the composition - Janus like in their coming and going. There are three more symbols of the east in the drawing. Two are the stylized snake and rat on the pottery in the corner. I made these because I had started this drawing in the Chinese year of the rat and finished it in this year of the snake. I had thought of depicting a snake swallowing a rat but thought better of it.

The last little symbol in my drawing is an amalgam of east/west communication and the spirit of Frida Kahlo. Any student of the paintings of Frida Kahlo is familiar with her graphic depictions of her body experiencing unspeakable tortures. I thought of doing a similar thing because I was having one of my daily pain attacks while I was completing this drawing. In the background on a shelf is an upright rabbit eating a carrot. The Chinese phrase for a rabbit eating something sounds like the word “torture” in English. It is not exactly as Frida Kahlo would have expressed discomfort but it is there. It is a classic case of my Victorian sensibilities overriding my need for graphic expression. And it is fine by me if the only folks who get the bad joke are few. At least one purpose of the drawing was served - the pain faded away after it was finished.

No comments: