I'm still hard at work for the Barcelona exhibition. This is my latest piece, I just completed it and I call it Sunset Shower. As I completed it, I thought of a question I was asked a while back and I finally came up with an answer. The person had asked me why I paint men with umbrellas. No doubt they are a common theme in my work, but at the time I was asked, I had nothing but a very erudite and clever, "I dunno, I like umbrellas". Today, the question presented itself again, but this time in a more persistent form. I won't mention any names, but let's just say this "form" wasn't accepting "dunno" as an answer and is very skilled in the art of cross examination. So, I thought about it, and it is true, I do like umbrellas, there's something mysterious, intriguing about seeing a figure walking by, in the rain, partially obstructed by an umbrella. Who are they? Where are they going? What is their life like? But it's more than that, and less. The less, I've never actually owned an umbrella. I've been caught in my fair share of rain and I just never bought one. As a young man, to be perfectly honest, I thought people carrying them looked like dorks. Seriously, how fancy are you that you can't get wet? Ah, youth!
That being said, here's the "more". When I was studying art and art history at the "Institute of Get Schooled For Free" also known as the local library, I came across an Irish-British painter by the name of Francis Bacon, an openly gay (when that wasn't even a thing), clever, kiss-my-ass kind of artist. He's not to everyone's taste, but I saw one of his pieces, simply called "Painting", a 1946 piece and I just loved it! Here it is:
See the sinister looking dude with the teeth and the umbrella? Well, that stuck in my head. There's something captivating about it and I found umbrellas sitting in the back of my mind and showing up in my paintings in my way. I really like his stuff. I like that he had guts and that his work was raw and different. He wasn't afraid to explore and confront his dark side. We all have one, so why not? I don't care how much you want to deny it or how much you want to pretend you're all sweet and pure and in white light or whatever. The fact is, like anything else in life, human nature is a dichotomy, a mix of opposites, male and female, hard and soft, dark and light. It's just how it is and one is no better or worse than the other, they just are and we have to keep each in check to varying degrees. Art is supposed to make you "feel", and by feel, it's supposed to elicit an emotion.... nowhere does it say the emotion has to be warm and fuzzy. Fear, disgust, revulsion, they're all emotions and this cat could make you feel all of those at once, and then some! I'd take him over an emotionless decorative piece any day of the week! Without artists that were willing to put the middle finger to the establishment and push the envelope with unabashed, raw expression, art would never progress and for that, I'm grateful to the late Mr. Bacon. That, and the love of umbrellas.