Pralaya is inspired by the constellation Cygnus. Pralaya means 'dissolution' in Sanskrit, and is the Hindu term for the cosmic night, a period of rest between spiritual epochs, during which the seeds of the future times are formed. I thought of things circling around the great spirit of Cygnus as they are becoming formed. The typical image of Pralaya is of seven sages in a boat being pulled by a fish. I don't know why I wanted to connect Pralaya to Cygnus, but after I made the painting I noticed the boat had a swan for a masthead. I must have seen that without registering it.
I’ve wanted to paint a lamb for a long time. What I really wanted was to paint the spiral fur, but it’s intimidating to paint the animal that represents God for some people. Why a lamb? Such a gentle creature, hardly anyone I know thinks of God that way. The rainbow around the lamb is somewhat common, though not the opposite colors underneath. Wool is wisdom in matter. In mythology a king will have a fleece over his shoulder to show he is a wise person. I love wool. It is a magical substance, even wet wool will keep you warm.
This image is inspired The Sermon chapter in Moby Dick. The story of Jonah and the whale is told and there is a moment when Jonah notices the swinging lamp in his berth is tilting but the flame stays upright--as flames always do. “Oh! so my conscience hangs in me!” he groans, “straight upwards, so it burns; but the chambers of my soul are all in crookedness!” Many traditions describe the conscience as a flame inside you. This is why we call a moral person upstanding. It is said animals don't have a conscience because they are on all fours, and a baby's doesn't begin to develop until they can stand. It is the reason a criminal is described as crooked and called a crook.
Feeling is part of the triptych: Thinking, Feeling and Willing. In spirit a human being is separated into three aspects: the head and nervous system -thinking; the trunk and the rhythmic system -feeling; and the limbs and the metabolic system -willing. The head, heart and hands. I chose a giraffe for Feeling because of its sensitive face, though I recently read that a giraffe has a special ‘super-charged’ heart in order to get blood up to its head. If I had to choose a spirit animal it would be a giraffe- which would mean I’m ‘far-seeing’. In Siena, the giraffa is the symbol for the contrade (neighborhood) of painters.
HUMAN NATURE 2011