Going Medieval

I’m back to painting after the show. It’s been hard to find a good rhythm again, but I’ve started to pick up steam.

I wanted to record some of my initial thoughts about my new project direction: The Medieval World.

I think there are a few reasons I want to try this and I’ll list them below:

  1. Medieval Art is really cool and I don’t see anyone trying to engage with actual historical medieval art. There’s a lot of dragons and swords and stuff, but a lot of it is drawn like comic books. No hate there- love comic books, but there’s a lane for responding to medieval art.
  2. There’s a narrative that I think needs to be changed. In the grand narrative of how we think about Western Culture it goes something like this: Rome was great, but then it fell and led to a bunch of stupid people believing a bunch of terrible things, and then people rediscovered Greek thought and the Renaissance/Enlightenment happened. There’s a lot of stuff that’s silly about that narrative, and I think it would be great to challenge it.
  3. Barbara Tuchman wrote a really compelling book, “A Distant Mirror”, about how the 14th century had a lot of themes similar to the 20th century. I love that book- I really like the idea of periods with vastly different places in time or location having deep similarities. The 21st century seems, so far, to be pretty different than the 20th and 14th- but I think there are interesting connections to be made regardless
  4. I love King Arthur and I’d like an excuse to reread it all and do portraits of those knights
  5. Grocery Knight as a concept is something I’d like to explore in a larger way. That painting is about my bemused disillusionment with my first social work job and the limits of my ability to effect change as an adult. I think that legend/mundane juxtaposition is potentially very rich, depending on the tack I take. I’d hate to be Shrek or Wicked- I think there’s instead a sort of existentially sad version of legends that could be a rich vein of painting.

I’ve been taking stab at getting some paintings made for this idea- I have 4 little/medium paintings and am working on a large, theses statement kind of painting.

My hope would be to make little, medieval paintings that parallel with contemporary paintings. I’d like to build towards a world of grocery knights. I think the Empty Church (which is a triptych) could go in this show potentially as well.

The trick now is to work on these small paintings to lock in an aesthetic before moving too quickly on to more complicated subjects. I’m slowly working on a painting of the wise men going to Pittsburgh- a re-imagining of a medieval painting about the wise men. While I work on that I hope to practice some of the figures in that painting by making these smaller works.

Anyway, that’s the plan. I’ll find a good gallery for this show and we will be off to the races.

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