“Lammentations”: A Suite of Collage Work-2004

My current body of collage work is indebted, in part at least, to circumstance. As the result of the loss of my studio space I found myself limited to an art that could be produced in a 10 x 15′ home office. As a result, I began a re-examination of collage… a media I had not seriously explored since art school. The immediate outcome was a series of small, poetic collages that were largely concerned with books. As a self-admitted bibliophile I had long struggled with the problem of how to bring my love of books into my art. With these collages the solution seemed obvious. Not only was I able to draw upon the book as the very source material for my art… to utilize the covers, the papers, the texts and the printed images… but I was also able to draw upon the intimate scale of the book and even to suggest various literary themes.

In the earliest of these works each individual collage had its own theme: Arab-Andalusian poetry, architecture, Bach’s music, and Emily Dickenson were among the inspirations. After framing most of these works and sending them off for exhibition, I contemplated the idea of creating a small suite of related works. As I began these works I decided to explore an imagery (albeit still abstract) that was somewhat darker than what had gone before. With the war in Iraq, the looting of the Bagdad museum, the bombings in Spain and the continued violence in Israel, I found myself meditating upon war, fragmentation, and mortality… human mortality and mortality of entire cultures. As my readings at the time included various elegiac Psalms and the Hebrew Book of Lamentations, the title for this suite soon became “Lamentations“.

Initially I pictured “Lamentations” numbering some 10 or 12 pieces. The concept, however, soon grew. Listening to “Die Winterreise”, the dark song cycle of Schubert, I began to realize that the small individual works of art could, when accumulated, grow into something of grand, if not epic, scale. As the “Lamentations” developed and the numbers increased it began to cover rather large wall of my studio. I saw the work as an entire wall of elegies or meditations upon war and loss, and could not help but imagine a correlation with such elegiac monuments as the Vietnam War Memorial. At a certain point the work in “Lamentations” began to exhibit a shift. The imagery swung away from concerns with broad geometric forms and began to center upon the calligraphic gesture. When the color and entire mood had shifted to a large enough extent I realized that the work had reached its end. At this point it numbered nearly 100 individual collages.

I imagine “Lamentations” as a series of elegies or meditations upon the themes of mortality, devastation, and loss. Clearly rooted in my love of books, the work was inspired, in part, by my reading of various elegiac Psalms as well as the Hebrew “Book of Lamentations”, and developed against the background of the War in Iraq, the looting of the Baghdad Museum, and the increasing violence in the Middle East. My use of the formal element of fragmentation (some might say “desecration” ) and reconstruction was intended as a metaphor of mortality and the tenuousness of life and culture… as well as of rebirth… or transcendence… physical or
spiritual (through recycling or reclamation).

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A Balancing Act

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The Razor’s Edge

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The Sword of Gabriel

-Scimitar

Scimitar

Thrust

Thrust

Sahttered Sword

Shattered Sword

Samurai

Samurai


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Shroud

Hommage to Braque

Homage to Braque

The Key

The Key

Black Sun I

Black Sun I

Black Sun III

Black Sun III

Black Sun IV

Black Sun IV

Gutenberg

Gutenberg

Zen Dancing

Zen Dancing

Entwine

Entwine

Knot-Not

Knot-Not

Embrace

Embrace

Eros et Mort

Eros et Mort

Lammentation Wall

-A studio view of the Lamentations Suite

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-The artist and studio mates with Lamentations

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The artist with Lamentations

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-Studio view of Lamentations, framed

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2 Comments

  1. Sonya said,

    February 16, 2009 at 4:06 am

    discovered this link late in evening. Now, can’t leave. spellbound

  2. stlukesguild said,

    February 17, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Sonya… thanks. I guess its too bad I’m no longer making these.


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