by | Feb 22, 2020 | The Hungry Eye

for Pornpat

Down through the forest of my paintings runs a river of green. It is ship, subject and heart. Green is the color of the heart chakra. Green is the first sliver of Spring parting Winter’s curtain.
Come with me on this mermaid ship of hearts to tour the green pictures. 

In 1987, while in the midst of making war paintings, there was Weight of Light (60 X 90 oil on linen). It’s references are Viet Nam and Caravaggio but its cradle is green:


In 1988: Alma del Corazon (54 X 54 oil on linen), a jungle depiction of the heart’s anatomy, the sculpture at its center a headless, limbless Christ scavenged from the Cloisters…. the God seed in everyone:

Down the river a bit in 1989 is Between Un & Ah (60 X 80 oil on linen); a Viet Cong prisoner in the karmic hands of temple guardians. That poor guy is us. But there’s a bonus — we’re in the mangroves where it’s dreamy, watery and greenly beautiful:

But it gets weirder, for in 1998 I dreamt The City of Green Fire (60 X 90 oil on linen). There the patron Saint of Roses turns roses into fish, setting them free to swim the fiery air… among other unusual events:

Pisces, go figure……… and then at the edge of the new century, 1999, I did a self portrait as The Fish that Loved Maya (22 X 44 oil on linen)

In 2002 I had one of those picture revelations. At night when I would get up to pee I would always think about Death. Remarking to a friend: It’s as though I have a date with the guy every night, I instantly I knew it was a painting. And I took my cat, Ming, along with me. And somehow the floor became the lake at the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach.
Check out the light source from under Death’s single wing…
Wolff & Ming Late at Night (48 X 72 oil on linen)

And finally in 2006 a picture with the title Green (40 X 52 oil on linen). Up the hill from the pictures of the creek that follow, down the years in memory, but rich in sensory linger.

2009’s lanquid landscape is actually a compressing of sensations into a geography of creek lushness. Its a stand-in for all those ridiculous feelings that bear light better in metaphor.
Phosphor (48 X 60 oil on wood)

Lingering in 2009, just past where the creek turns the emerald corner, we plunge in and under the hemlocks, among the boulders and broken light.
Break & Find  (60 X 69 oil on linen)

Looking back from 2011 to the edge of that same creek is the portrait of my son.
Boy in the Ferns  (12 X 23 oil on wood)

Our tour takes us downriver for several years to 2013 and to the place all rivers go to.
The Kiss  (48 X 60  oil on linen)

But wait! We are going back upriver to that same creek to visit St Francis.
2014   The Man Who Loved the World (40 X 48 oil on wood)

Mermaid ships can go anywhere, so she takes us now to the 2018 interpretation of Zhu Zi Qing’s essay: Lotus Pond Moonlight  (48 X 60  oil on wood)

Its still 2018, deep Summer with its impossible greens and black hole shadows; a haiku riff on a small piece of land that I see often.  Summertime (48 X 60 oil on canvas)

Still 2018 and again Zhu Zi Qing’s beautiful writing. His title was Green (48 X 62 oil on linen) and so is mine, for the second time.

Its night here in Brooklyn and the summer cars with their wailing songs and cherry tail lights blur away into the dark under the BQE.
Sometimes the world is inexplicably sad. That is when I hail the mermaid ship or if need be, swim out to her. For now she rocks asleep over the deep waters.