I’ve been looking at my Exiles series quite a bit lately. From the mid 1990’s, it’s a highly personal series of faces and figures that kind of act as a landing spot for me to place my rawest emotions during trying times. The piece shown here is titled Martyr and remains an enigma to me, mainly because I have never had thoughts of martyrdom for myself. But I have been looking at this quite a bit because of a recent request that I revisit this painting at some point in the future.
The person who requested this sees the body and musculature of this figure as an extension of the landscape and when I look at it with that thought I very much see what he means by that. I had never thought of it in those terms and it strikes a real chord with me so I am excited to get to his request at some point soon.
Plus he would love to see it in tones of blue. How great would that be?
Anyway, here’s a bit more that I wrote about this piece here many years back:
This is another painting from the Exiles series of the mid 90’s, titled Martyr.
As I sit here right now, I am at a loss for words to describe this piece. While there is overt religious symbolism, for me it is not about that. It is about self-sacrifice, giving everything for the benefit of others.
But there is also an element that has to do with fear.
When I look at the torso of this character I see it almost as though he has had his skin removed, baring the muscles beneath. For me, this translates as one being afraid of the consequences of exposing what lies inside. In my mind, this martyr has been punished for showing who he truly is.
Maybe I’m describing paranoia. Maybe it’s a form of agoraphobia or just introversion.
I don’t really know.
It’s funny that this piece that has hung above my desk for many years still perplexes me and eludes definition. I’m sure that one would expect to know exactly what was meant when I painted this but quite honestly, when I started this piece I had no idea where it was going. Even when the figure neared completion I was still scrambling for the true meaning. The elements that seem to from a crucifix were not present and weren’t even contemplated at first.
So the piece remains an enigma. Personally, I like that. It gives me a sense that the piece is beyond the obvious which is what I hope for all my work.