‘Remain’ (Aryuna Tardis No. 2)
Acrylic on Canvas – 30” x 48”
‘Remain’ is a project that I’ve wanted to work on for almost a year. The first painting I did of Aryuna Tardis, entitled, ‘Gimme Love,’ seemed to be well received by the model, but when I asked if she would give me permission to use another of her images as a reference picture for a painting, I never heard back, despite several follow ups. Upon a closer look at the painting, was she displeased or upset with the rendering or proportions? Was she secretly adamant that I never paint her again? Oh, the angst and drama! I checked my measurements and found to my dismay that I had made the distance between her nose and mouth ever so slightly off—maybe a sixteenth of an inch. Such tiny miscalculations are major catastrophes in portraiture. Oh well!
But after many months, I decided to ask again. Aryuna, who is Russian—and I’m not sure how good her English is—responded: Hi! Sure! followed by five heart emoji. Game on, I thought.
Underneath all the technology, the radiant displays and electric colors of our online profiles, social media presence, friends, friends and more friends we’ve never even met —underneath all the sharing, posting, commenting and ‘likes,’ underneath all the things we admit and all the things we hide, all our loneliness and insecurity, successes and failures, exaggerations, and moments of laughter and pain, there is somewhere underneath all those pixels, the image of ourselves we try so hard to create, ordinary people living in boredom, an almost unbearably beautiful boredom.
This second version of Layla Ong is very similar to the first except for eye color, green halo and angle. (Photographer, Lenne Chai, was kind enough to allow me to use her work as reference images) I think the influence of Japanese woodblock printing is even more apparent in the lines, and perhaps, flatness of the painting. There’s also an Art Deco feel to it, nothing intentional, just how things look to me afterwards.
Working on two large panels, I find that the color and detail are quite satisfying, but not so much as a jpg on a device. I suppose it’s the same as writing music to be performed at a stadium as opposed to a smaller venue. (Ever watch David Byrne’s TED Talk: How architecture helped music evolve?) I wonder how artists paint enormous murals on the sides of buildings. Anyway, I was in the mood for a larger work and another portrait of Layla—now on to something different… maybe.
I finally got around to painting the full size version of Layla. As much as I tried to create an exact reproduction, when I put the smaller preliminary painting on watercolor paper next to the large canvas, I noticed that there are striking differences. Even with taking careful measurements, the slight variations in proportions and contours produce a completely different mood and expression. I added a halo in this one, using a more subtle blue than my previous bright green attempts.
As I gear up for my book release event (at a local comic convention), I wonder who’ll get swallowed up into the maelstrom that is my new graphic novel, Spiryts. I’ve been giving away Spiryts as a free e-book online. The downloads by faceless pop culture bibliophiles is oddly satisfying, knowing that my story and illustrations are imprinting themselves onto the collective retina of many.
But of most interest and consequence to me is the decoding of the mystery itself. Will someone with an undiscovered gift for cryptology—or simply the visually oriented—crack the codes quickly and easily or will people be baffled long after I’m gone? —Preferably, somewhere between the former and the latter. For there must be a sweet spot of viral attention that will lead to some good being done in this world, for I assure you, raising awareness of subject matter is half the battle and this is most definitely an example thereof.
Spiryts was ten years in the making, begun in 2008, with artwork that served as an instrument for me to explore the unknown within myself. I’ve had all that time to allow the subconscious and waking mind to ruminate and piece together what it all means. Using the Japanese story, Urashima Taro, as a thread to weave together concepts, the narrative unfolds with hidden and sometimes not so hidden text and imagery.
Read the story first as perhaps a work of surrealism, but then go back and comb over the archetypes, symbols and metaphors, using all at your disposal to delve deep. Leaf through the paperback and use Adobe Acrobat to zoom in on the online pdf file. Compare what you find with photos, videos and anything posted to my website (you may even want to click here).
Spiryts was not created for the sake of being strange and impossible to understand as one might guess with the Voynich manuscript or the Codex Seraphinus. Neither is it a treasure hunt like Kit William’s Masquerade, although there’s much to search for and consider in a geographical context.
If you reach the first level of discovery, the deciphering of the language of ‘Otohime,’ don’t be frightened or disturbed by the revelation at the end of the book. There is safety in numbers. Band together with friends, family and possibly law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Hyperbole? Well, who doesn’t love a good mystery?
Like a Yayoi Kusama infinity room, Aya’s reflection in Urashima’s heart, goes on forever. And so does the thirst for answers.
Painting Ai Weiwie, a short video about creativity, activism and human rights.
I noticed that my post for the Yayoi Kusama tribute video wasn’t displaying properly on mobile devices, so here’s a jpg you can click on to view the video on YouTube, or click here.
Layla seemed like the logical next step to take after Ruyoo No. 2. In trying to draw you in closer to the subject, I further blur the lines between fictive body paint and the painting itself. The analogous color study begins in the middle of the face with warm yellows and radiates outward into violets and blues. The contradiction between the illusion of physical representation and the electric mystical seems to be leading to yet another step towards the unknown. I wait for it, like the model seems to be waiting for something, and yet I can surmise that the answers are already before me by the apparent vacuum of significance.
The reference photo I worked from actually had red paint on model, Ruyoo Jyoo’s, face. I thought it looked a little too much like blood and opted for blue. Once I added the neon colored paints, the painting activated with energy, at least what I consider nice movement and balance. I didn’t use the stencil squares as much in this one. I stopped just as I found satisfaction with smudges and marks that are part of the process. And of course, there are a few intentional and carefully placed dots.
Almost all the paintings on this site are for sale. Currently, I’m working a small‘preliminary’ paintings that I will eventually show to my art dealer and then decide on what would translate well to large canvases. If you’re interested in collecting my work, please contact me.