January 23, 2014

The Joker and the Bearded Man with the White Hand

The small paintings of imaginary faces I included with my mini installation for my upcoming exhibition challenged me to come up with titles. The other paintings in this group, the cotton flowers and landscapes, were rather self-explanatory and therefore easy to name. They were painted from observed materials and easily recognizable. Giving them self explanatory titles was natural. But what of the fantasy faces exuding from the dark depths of dreams? The man in profile reminiscent of some of the highly decorated Balinese shadow puppets I’ve admired I named "Joker." He smiles to please the crowd and dispels displeasure. I could not fathom what I was up to when I painted the man with the voluminous hair and beard with a white hand across his mouth. So I simply named him "Bearded Man." I originally painted him in dark shadows to highlight his hand across his mouth. But the hand was painted so white that it almost looked like a power apart from himself who silences the bearded man. A friend of mine did not even recognize bearded man as a person but thought that he was a lion and the white hand that of a lion tamer. Perhaps she was right, something of animal instinct was being silenced or repressed in this image of the hand across the mouth - causing the face to retreat into the shadows. He will remain one of the mysteries in the oeuvre.

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