Let’s begin with Peter Paul Ruben’s painting “ Prometheus Bound ” completed in 1618
with the aide Frans Snyder who painted the eagle. I forget the age when first my eyes set on this monumental painting, 7 maybe 8 years old? during a class trip to the
Philadelphia Museum of Art. That encounter was extraordinary one of a few in my life time to have a profound impact. Below a recent picture of me revisiting that masterpiece in 2012.
Also let’s look at the painting by Jean Michel Basquiat called “ Untitled, Fallen Angel ” completed in 1981. This painting represents a cast out angel forever in prisoned in Earth’s subterranean depth’s as punishment. This image to me is the modern version of Ruben’s Painting “ Prometheus Bound ” although both paintings are completely distinct opposites from one another. How do they relate to my studio practice and why?
Well in my early teen’s I was classically trained to paint and draw like the old masters before entering college. Peter Paul Rubens among an array of painters of his era helped mold my work, coping from life and mimicking things that look real to our natural eyes. Also was trained to work from photographs which I believe gave me a modern edge, without understanding why and for what.
Currently my work in this past year has drastically changed, even my approach to art. One night at work I was drawing in my book, a thought came to be “ Why I am not painting this? ” The very next day this painting was being produced, using only my imagination completely devoid of any reference point.
This presented a new type of struggle “ application of paint ” because I never really painted a body of work in canvas. This the new surface has it’s interesting set of issues quite frankly was not used to dealing with. Drawing for more than 25 years tends to do that. By studying the art of Basquiat allowed me to let loose of the constricting barriers set upon my art for over two decades. Rubens realism on the other hand still exists in my way of work, something as hard as I try, can’t seem shake this loose in my art practice.
At this stage of my painting style, being free is important to express with out boundaries in oder to create art. Yet structure ever so prevalent, a constantly trained hand still reverts me in ways painting that are still constricted and yet structured. A combination of so-called art styles are ever present in my practice… Like Ruben’s narrative below, subjected to a life time of regeneration and removal the titan’s liver by the eagle. This punishment given to Prometheus by Zeus over his theft of fire to aide humanity in Greek mythology
Why this relentless cycle? after years of work wether color, black and white on paper. What one may say “ Old habits are difficult to disengage ”. Can imagine Ruben’s practice plus strict formulas to compose a successful group of paintings or one canvas. Then Basquiat’s vigorous hunger to mark, paint also create images reflecting his everyday surroundings. I love both these two talented image machines from two different eras.
What is done with works in my studio mixes up traditional and modern practices reflecting my interpretations of the modern human condition. A revolving door of sorts, melange of psychological emotions experienced and expressed in a canvas painted by me.
The painting below is the first acrylic work I’ve done completely from my imagination done in 2003. This canvas relates the violent change my work has evolved into, like Ruben’s Prometheus painting. The removal and recreation never ending cycle constantly changing.
These so-called styles span from cubist elements, realist applications and abstraction mixed in salad bowl of art created by my eclectic mind. Like jazz improvisation blends many disciplines of mixed styles of music to create a unique sound, my art is that. Recently in the last 6 months, painting has become a playing ground of multiple experiments. The Prometheus effect exists in all of my work, like the painting below.
My sketch book work evolved into canvases, drawing at this point is rarely done. Uncomfortable this is for me now until my hands find it’s way back to the book. Technology is now my new sketch book, the camera and internet pictures inhabit my creative juices.
To conclude, Basquiat and Rubens are two artists who’s works strongly influenced art on my hands. The image below is an image created in Photoshop using three pictures, two by Basquiat one by Paige Powell. If Basquiat painted “ Prometheus Bound ” it may have looked like this.
To me art is always in flux without end or limits, learning each day how much is not known or even done. Five years ago at the Taller Puertorriqueno in north Philadelphia, a twenty year survey called “ Modified Personalities” of my drawings was presented. This for me marked an end of drawing, the beginning of painting. More like drawing is on hold for how long I don’t know.
In a few short weeks I will receive my Master’s degree in painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, May 13th 2016. To the many instructors and critics of PAFA two consistent things I said: “ I came here to paint, and to change my employment .” Ruben’s “ Prometheus Bound ” painting is forever an influence to my art. I have and continue to study Jean Michel Basquiat’s work, he did what Picasso and Klee couldn't do..” paint like a child.”
Basquiat a high school drop-out, a self taught genius, Afro-Latino American painter. Funny when reading about him self taught is rarely if at all mentioned. A so-called graffiti artist turned world famous painter one can only wonder. Then the famous diplomat slash painter Rubens a true renaissance man with national power and influence. The Prometheus Effect embodies those two power houses of talent and unique voices in our art world.