01.23.10 - 03.06.10
Artist Statement, regarding the Lincoln Paintings
American historical painting has, for the most part, always been about ideals and ideal realities. Americana is an ideal representation of the glory of us. Through this device painting is frequently pressed into the service of some perceived “good” to our society. I think of the happy slaves one sees romping through their chores at the splendid home of George Washington. I can promise you all there is such a painting. It hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I did not paint it, of course, but it is as much a product of lies as any thing I ever dreamt up. Such a painting not only tells the “story of George Washington,” it supports an ideal social order that many Americans are comfortable with. Think of pious Christian mothers free from the struggles and trials of women, or walls filled with images of those soldiers who do not bleed, but walk eternally towards the glory of battle. Our national story is made clean by means of these symbolic realities. Our history is thereby esponged of the lessons hidden in its tragedy. This may be seen as the noble lie that Plato spoke of. These efforts made to conceal certain acts, while revealing the ideal aspects of others, exist to create social cohesion at the expense of truth. When I paint, I create a false historical tableau that hopefully inspires thought about the symbolism and meanings found in Americana. In the Lincoln paintings I use an iconic figure that is revered as a man of virtue, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln is placed in fantastic sexual situations throughout my entire series of paintings.