I made two more paintings in the circus series to replace the two that have sold (the monkey and the giraffe), but then one of the new ones plus an older one (the elephant) sold so now I need to make more. Not that I’m complaining.
I focused on the tricks that the animals are made to perform because they are just as disgusting to me as the physical abuse so prevalent in circuses that include wild animals. It’s degrading. I’ve never understood the desire to kill, cage, or otherwise possess something you find beautiful. Don’t you love it or find it interesting because of what it is, and can you not see how possession changes it?
Sorry about the poorly shot photos. I kept forgetting to do it, and then ended up rushing. Since I’m interested in eventually producing prints, I’ll have to be more deliberate. For these two, as before, I used second hand frames from local thrift stores.
The amusing thing about all of this is that I tried a bunch of other things in an effort to earn some money, thinking that selling “public friendly” paintings or drawings could not possibly work for me. None of those other endeavors really amounted to much, or gave me the same level of satisfaction as making these paintings. If I can keep it up (EF wants me to have work there every 3-4 months), then this is certainly a viable option.
I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience lately. Last week I was reading about Eva Hesse and there was this phrase that really stuck out in my mind — “… haunted by obedience.” So many contemporary acts of rebellion feel forced, phony, or inauthentic. Symbols of it – like tattoos, strange hair styles, and so on – are now meaningless. Where is the real rebellion? Is that possible? Are we all haunted by obedience?
Now that they’re framed, mostly in second hand frames, I like them much more. Probably because I don’t have to worry as much about the 96 year old paper tearing or getting renegade glitter in my tea.
The paintings will go up on Friday and will remain in the Earth Fare cafe area through August. Hopefully at least a few of them will sell since that was kind of the whole point. That said, I don’t think these pieces are entirely separate from my “real” work and actually reflect on some interesting things that I had forgotten about.
One example: When I was a kid, I used to make a lot of collages. I didn’t intend for them to have socially critical meanings or set out thinking, “This will be funny”. I just made them. Later I’d look at them and think, “Oh, this is about _____” and I could see how they were a bit silly and angry all at once.
Coincidentally, I’ve been watching X-Men cartoons lately.
Today I finished the small group of paintings made specifically for display locally and, hopefully, for sale. There are people who say you shouldn’t ever make work just to make some money (or “sell-out”, as they prefer), but those are generally people who don’t have to worry about money. They change their tune when they get older or when the money runs out. Then they’re ready to stop painting pussies and throw a few lighthouses or dog portraits into the mix.
My hope is that when I’m doing this I can still manage to retain part of myself in the painfully safe and redundant imagery that one generally uses under these circumstances. It should be noted that I don’t necessarily think badly of people who like this kind of work. I’m painting some tropical flowers for my mom, as per her request, and I don’t do so begrudgingly or harboring some resentment because she doesn’t like me “real” work. It’s okay. Really. It’s just not what I want, it’s not what excites me.
In this particular instance, I focused on circus animals.