40.000 x 30.000 inches
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Painting - Acrylic On Canvas
This painting began with one idea and morphed into another. The background image is obviously Seurat’s Grand Jatte, and as most people familiar with art history know, Seurat used his pointillism technique to create this incredible work of art. Pointillism was the primary reason I chose Grand Jatte, not because of its success or failure as an art theory, but because it was created by juxtaposing tens of thousands of little dots of paint next to each other. My original intent was to make a (very esoteric) statement about the conflict between string theory and point particle physics. (I did not use the pointillism technique myself. Seurat took eleven years to paint Grand Jatte. I had grass to cut.) As I came to a certain “point” in my work, however, I realized this was not about theories of quantum physics, but about life. Seurat’s Grand Jatte, despite its failure as a theory of art, was an enormous success as a statement of life, or rather, its simple joys. Art historians and critics have argued over the true meaning of Grand Jatte. What did Seurat really mean by depicting such socially diverse peoples enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the park? How about- it is something everyone can do despite their social status? The painting may seem stylized and stiff to some (it certainly did to Camille Pissarro) but stand before it at the Art Institute of Chicago and you cannot help but to be impressed with its sense of joy in the simple pleasures of the day.
So, what about the foreground expanse of sky and rude little boy? Despite first impressions, the boy’s rudeness is not directed at the viewer but the cosmos. Neither religion nor quantum physics have ever answered the ultimate question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” They never will. We are all left to our own explanations, and for some of us, the only explanation is- there is no explanation, only the reality of the moment. The little boy is a cross between a gargoyle perched on a ledge of Notre Dame Cathedral warding off evil and Quasimodo holding back the mob, protecting the sanctuary . Grand Jatte represents that sanctuary. Quantum Quasimodo, therefore, turned from a statement about point particle physics versus string theory to an existential challenge to the universe- there ultimately may be no meaning to this existence but we do not have to accept despair as our only condition, we still may find sanctuary from the night, from a cold, silent and uncaring cosmos.
April 2nd, 2012
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