September 28, 2013

Monstrous Little Painting

This painting started out as a collage of a paper representing a creature which I could not identify. It looked bovine but could just as well have been a large dog. Such is naive art. Yet its very anonymity gave me free reign to paint over its shape without delineating any features. As I painted, however, the body seemed to sprout a man’s head sporting a blue beard. He looked familiar, like someone I knew when I was in high school. Amazing what subliminal memories come to the fore when doing stream of consciousness art.

Since the beast now had a human head I decided to replace the hooves with human feet, two left feet and two right feet. No longer bearing any resemblance to the gentle cow of Chinese folk art I was yet reminded of something in Chinese classical literature. Earlier last year I read the Shan Hai Jing, an ancient compendium of mythical monsters and their favorite haunts. I thought that it would be entertaining reading but found that it was instead a tedious laundry list of outrageous descriptions. I don’t even remember them save one - a creature described as having its anus above rather than below its tail. I considered adding this feature to the painting above but refrained myself. And here seemed to be the best place to close my short chapter on these folk paintings.

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