This is the painting I did for the festival Gang of Witches “Patriarchy is Burning” at the Palais de Tokyo Juin 2019
Learning to dance with the man eaters
This painting has a literary reference, when reading Angela Carter’s: “Nights at the circus”, a striking visualization came to me. There is a passage where Mignon, a minor character sings with the Princess of Abyssinia and learns that she can hypnotise the tigers with her voice and then eventually develops the courage to dance with them. The force and the strength of the tiger in contrast to the semi-nudity of the women in the painting suggests the disproportion, the enormous gap, in the fight against sexism and oppression. This discord, the extent of the unfairness shows how hard the combat will be. I like the absurdity of the idea of such an impossible feat (taming a tiger), breaking its natural impulse, too dangerous; simply stupid or naive, tempting such peril. First of all the tiger is armed with superior weight, claws, and fangs! Plus femininity values frailty, beauty, and fragility; but what good do those attributes do you on the battlefield? And navagating sexual politics in this society is like going to war. Women’s keys to breaking down traditional roles of passivity and aggression are fearlessness, trust, and patience, reversing the roles of predator and prey. We learn roles, we learn our places in society. Are we just animals that have been tamed and trained ? The Marquis de Sade said that we are either predator or prey, and that “predators must and will devour their natural prey”. To escape the role of the sacrificial lamb, (to be a piece of meat), his suggestion for women was to adopt the characteristics of the predator; because it is an “eat or be eaten” world. But if we want a better society; this is not the solution! The women in my tableau are learning from the tigers how to stage a revolution, not by copying the patriarchal model or adhering to any dogma. No leaning on established beliefs or religious doctrine; just using their own experience, developing an animal instinct.
A recurring theme in the stories of Angela Carter, is women becoming “increasingly feral and cat-like”. “The lamb must learn to run with the tigers”, she wrote in regards to de Sade and the subject of adopting “tigerhood”. Tired of being tame the tiger woman wants to break free, to dance toward a rhythmic and untamed future. Learning is similar to transformation- to cross the human/animal divide and transcend boundaries, roles and rules. A metamorphosis is already happening, to the women in the painting, their hands and feet are turning black. A pouring out (the dripping paint), and the feet in the air, represent the need to turn our world upside down. Carter says that refusing fear is the solution. Apollinaire says a new woman will renew the world.
Dance of Death:
Dance is cooperation, one leads, the other follows. In love there is this dynamic as well, strong wills must cede to each other. Bodies in fluid motion suggest an eventuality of evolution. Dance is a celebration where one loses oneself. Is it a dance of death? Medeival popular images of the whole spectrum of society led in a frenzy, dancing until death, these images conveyed a mocking of social position; because we are all equal faced with mortality. I take the idea of the danger of a dance with tigers as another illustration of the dance of death; all these teeth and stripes on the edge of chaos and lunacy.
Why tigers? In Chinese astrology tigers are friendly, brave, competitive, charming and endowed with good luck and authority. With indomitable fortitude and great confidence, people born the year of the tiger can be competent leaders. In Tibetan art they represent: “unconditional confidence, disciplined awareness, kindness, modesty, relaxed yet energized, resting in a gentle state of being that has a natural sense of satisfaction and fulfillment” which I interpret as enlightenment. We are learning to dance from them, and there is so much more that they can teach us.
The throne, the king, the businessman are all symbols of the Patriarchy; the eternal father figure, as angry, controlling, exploiting, the punisher. In Beauty and the Beast it is through love that the beast regains his humanity. It is women, mothers and lovers who can bring out the softer sides of men. In The Sadeian Woman A. Carter uses Sade’s work to expose women to their complicity with stereotypes by questioning the experience of seduction. We all could stand to take some inventory, start to prioritise and then reform.
The color Red-The Planet Mars:
These women are not the white sacrificial lambs. They are the exact opposite visually, dressed in blood red, form revealing leotards. The theme for Gang of Witches 2019 is Mars, the red planet, a sister planet to earth in that she shows the possibility of a bleak future for Earth, a warning, of what will happen if we don’t take care of the environment. There are only 3,890 tigers that remain in the wild. We are in danger of extinction, just like the maneaters. We apprehend man’s uselessness as we move towards dependence on machines. The depth of space in the picture, the dance of the couples are reminders of planets orbiting around the sun. Mars also represents the God of war and conflict, Patriarchy is burning.
The powerful independent woman who can heal through herbs is accused of being a witch and in all the storybooks the cat is cast as her familiar. They are eternally linked, she is assisted, guided and inspired by her compagnion. It is her double, her alter-ego, sometimes her spy, sometimes her protector. Maybe the women in this painting are witches and the small house cat has grown up into a tiger.
My mode of expression is an illustrative/narative style of painting. For me it is so rich because it can be read on so many different levels. Some of today’s issues can only be explained by a visual language. I’m investigating my world, with each painting.
Literal Description fo the Painting :
An oil/mixed media painting of a festive scene. In a luminous ballroom, with a multicolored checkered floor, tigers are dancing with women dressed in red leotards. To the left in the foreground, two women are on the floor. We see one of them with just her feet in the air, red shoes and fishnet stockings. The other woman is lounging, leaning on a crouched tiger who seems to be in cahoots or protecting the two women. Near her hand is a group of bubbles around the word « fortitude ». Streams of dancing energy ribbons swirl bringing our eyes to what she has at her fingertips. In the far background against the back wall a ravenous tiger is snacking on a man dressed in a business suit. Most of the tigers are upright on two feet, holding their partner or dancing freestyle. There are clouds of vapor and bubbles that float in the air. We can see glittering music wafting across the image. On the ground are a few spheres and dice. Written in the music we read « L.E.A.R.N.I.N.G. T.O. D.A.N.C.E. W.I.T.H. T.H.E. » and in the bubbles maneaters
In this year’s edition I made some portraits of my friends in Gang of Witches. They are watercolor, inspired by some work I’ve done in the past. Portrait work is hard!!! It’s hard to capture all that you see in the person, also to make it ressemble them.
I’m excited about our show, I’m doing a huge painting and I will have a performance related to my painting. Please come if you are in Paris June 15th and 16th. I will be sending the invitation by email soon, if you want to see the press release and program, please send me an email.
In this year’s edition I made some portraits of my friends in Gang of Witches. They are watercolor, inspired by some work I’ve done in the past. Portrait work is hard!!! It’s hard to capture all that you see in the person, also to make it ressemble them. There will be 13 in this series.
Mexico City is built in the crater of a dead volcano. It is enormous, sprawling, polluted, magical, violent, and enimagitic. It has a reputation for being dangerous. There is a even a seperated metro car for women only, which means that they must need it.
Mexico to me means the art of Posada, pre-hispanic culture, poverty, hardship, passion, family, conflict. I love the many faces of indigenous people, the DIY attitude and entreprenurial spirit. Popular art is Art Brut, no wonder the surrealists were fascinated by Mexico. It’s museums are some of the best in the world. I love to explore mysterious places to unlock their secrets.
When I lived in California I lived in the mexican neighborhood, the Mission. This may be the roots of why I love this country so much, I’ve been exposed to the people and the culture for quite a long time.
I love Mexico city! It is so colorful and full of tectural contrasts. Everywhere I look there’s inspiration. I go through the city at least twice a year to go visit my mother.
My trip to Helsinki was in March, 2017 but I’ve never gotten around to writing about it until now. Blogging has been something I haven’t had much time for anymore. My priorities have changed as well as my readership’s, but I keep this blog as an archive so it is important to me to get this written down. Better late than never, right?
Blackheart Bettie– Bettie came to Paris to perform in a burlesque festival in February 2016. She contacted me because she wanted to collaborate on a tattoo project. She sent me many reference images, and a clear description of what she wanted, plus the freedom to interpret her idea as I saw best. Just how I like to work!
Here’s what I did on her.
We share many of the same passions and are attracted to similar imagery; costumes of the Follies Bergère, boudoir imagery, lithography of the 19th century. During the tattoo process, curious to go deeper, I tried to learn more about her, seeing as how we had similar tastes. I learned that she was a painter too! I asked her to show me her work, I loved it and was also delighted to find out that she is appreciated by the contemporary art world in Finland. She has shown in museums. Her artist name is Petra Innanen.
Later she contacted me and said she wanted me to somehow participate in the, Helsinki Burlesque Festival, that she organizes with her husband Frank. It would be the 10 years anniversary, also the last year. Bettie feels that Burlesque has changed and has lost some of the magic that made her love it in the first place. Bettie explained to me that she and her husband had fell head over heals in love with New Burlesque during a trip to California where they saw The Velvet Hammer. Maybe were present together at the same show? Funny how small the world is.
Backstage- hanging out backstage in theaters is magic; time stands still, the energy is high and you get caught up in the vortex. It’s a world not many outsiders get to see. I was very lucky to be invited backstage as I wasn’t performing. I asked to take photos and it was a good way to start a conversation with some of the artists.
From the Devon wing of the Louvre with all the Italian painters, an extrait of Orazio Samacchini’s painting, « Mercury Orders Énéide to Abandon Didon ». This is Didon and her little doggie, it’s part of a larger scene with a lot more people. I’ll have to try to sketch the others in the painting one day. I’m so excited about the next paintings that I’m going to copy. I’m doing this in hope to improve my eye and my drawing skills. I think I have tons of room for improvement. I would love to take lessons, but until I can, I will try to educate myself by study and practice.
Sculpture « Mercury kidnapping Psyché » by Adriaen de Vries, also in the Denon wing. This one didn’t turn out that great. I think it’s because 1. the scupture is dark and 2. the pose is complicated. My drawing is very stiff. Or maybe the sculpture is stiff ! On the bright side I met a bunch of really nice people, everyone was talking with me, which is fun! They were very encouraging, which every artist needs! I must work on dynamics more. Or what is another term for movement and weight?
Head Games, from sculpture in the Richelieu wing. Well, yesterday’s lesson at the Louvre didn’t go so well. Sometimes I feel that I am making progress and other times I seem to regress. Confidence and head space has a lot to do with my performance and in all parts of life. I’m really interested in the mental discipline of athletes, the power the mind has in phyiscal performance.
Todays’s lesson at the Louvre. Jean Simeon, “Le jeune dessinateur”. At first I was attracted to this image because thought it was a girl, a girl artist ! But my drawing didsn’t capture the androgynous quality. I was too much in a hurry, and I don’t know why. What did I learn from this lesson? That my impatience needs working on to get over! I didn’t spend enough time on checking my proportions. I was depending too much on how I already know how to draw faces. So I did tons of shading and decoration to hide my errors! So much revealed about my inner workings!
Help! I woul love to have some critique on this one. Les trois grâces, the three muse, sculpture, done at the Sully wing of the Louvre. I think that I find it easier to draw from paintings as they are already flattened out. It’s easier for my eyes to translate to my brain to my hand. Speaking of flat, I read recently that monocromatic artists were trying to push the flatness of painting to it’s limit. BS or interesting theory?
How long ago did the modern world start to lose all of its rituals? Is it modernity itself that dictates that we have no more need for these ceremonies of purification and anointment? I wonder if it could be traced back to the creation of secularism, the separation of church and state. Belief in one life, when you’re dead you’re done. Or is it more recent with a general disappointment in religion and a desire to be free of the constricting, oppressive social pressure and power of the church? Say we are free from religious guilt, the motor making us behave, to follow the rules of society for fear of descending into chaos; but we still feel a need for penance, atonement, repentance, confession. For our own psychological relief, a re-boot, ability to start afresh. Jung spoke of the necessity of the archetypes of religion as a way for us to understand reality.