Sequences I: Varese In Chicago (Boulez Conducting), oil on canvas © 2015-2016 Alfred Eaker
Stitched Sanctity, oil on canvas © 2016 Alfred Eaker
“Hay que caminar, soñando “is a 40 x 60, 2013 oil on canvas, named after a musical composition by Italian avant-gardist Luigi Nono, translated (roughly) as “Wanderer, there is no destination, but you must travel the road.” This is the first of several works inspired by this spiritually restless artist.
“Fragments From a Crepuscular World” is a 30 x 48 oil on canvas from 2009.
“Without World” is a 4ft x 4 ft oil on canvas from 2009.
“Self Portrait of the artist as a middle aged man” is a 3ft x 4 ft oil on canvas, from 2009.
“Shifting Sanctuaries” is a 2009, 30 x 48 oil on canvas of the BlueMahler character.
“Stations I. Christ is condemned to death” is a 2010 5 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas.
“Stations II. Christ Carries His Cross” is a 5 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas.
“Stations III. Christ falls for the first time” is a 2010, 5 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas.
“Stations IV. Christ meets His Mother On The Way To The Cross” is a 2011 oil on canvas and on of six Station paintings. All are 5 ft x 5 ft. Again, I dispense of a narrative per se and channel the event through a purely emotional, almost musically mystical filter. This is a homage to the teachings of Fr. Justin Belitz.
“Stations V. Simon helps Christ carry his cross” is a 5 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas from 2011.
“Stations VI. Veronica wipes the face of Christ” is a 2011 5 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas.
“Barenboim conducts the Bruckner 7th” is a 2014, 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. It is a reinterpretation from a sketch I made during a Chicago concert of that symphony, conducted by Daniel Barenboim in the 1990s. The 7th is the most personally mystical of Bruckner’s symphonic output. Barenboim is a pronounced romanticist and a visceral Brucknerian, shaping the composer’s intimate sanctuary.
“Pieta” is a 58 x 48 oil on canvas from 2014. Revisiting the subject, I concentrated on the relationship between the Madonna and Her slain Son in a celestial, communal setting.
“Prelude To A Day Of Wonder” is a 2010, 36 x 48 oil on canvas. That it is a prelude is key. Pure, emotional reaching… upward. A day of wonder is a day of attainment.
“Annunciation” is a 2011, 3 ft x 5 ft oil on canvas, painted while I was in grad school seminary. It is the prologue to the Magnificat. The Marian figure is young, ethnic, sensually caught up in her mystical hour, manifested through the celestial visitor.
“Pieta” is one of numerous oil on canvases (3 ft x 5 ft) I have painted on the traditional subject. This interpretation is from 2011, and directly followed the above “Annunciation.” The same figure is aged approximately thirty years. Again, she is endowed in her Hour. Her Son, reduced to Corpus Christie, is being lifted to Her by John the beloved and Joseph of Arimathea.The author of the Beatitudes is clearly the son of the Magnificat’s author. In the gospel narrative, Christ cried out to His Father: “Why have you forsaken me?” Father turned His face from Son. Yet, Mother faced Her son directly. As painful as it was, She did not look away. She did not forsake Him and wears a shirt of arrows for Him.
“Aja” is a 2014, 30 x 40 oil on canvas, which is born of Elizabeth Johnson’s meditation on the Marian image: “Truly, Our Sister.” Yes, She is Mother, but also Sister, twin, companion.
“Annihilation” is a 2014, 40 x 48 oil on canvas. It stems from Sufi meditation. “Christ casting the money changers out of the temple” is that figure’s moth to the flame moment. It is the only time we see the gospel figure losing his temper and it is this act, which gets him killed and inevitably transforms him. It is lack of love that Christ is responding to. Rather than the traditional depicted action narrative, usually attached to the subject, “Annihilation” is filtered through Le Pointe Vierge; the innermost secret heart.
“Our Lady Of The Mermaids”©2011 is a 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. Over the years, I have painted numerous Madonnas, born full grown from a painter’s brow, yet I feel it is this one alone, from 2011, in which my very personal tradition and theological tenets crystallized most lucidly. I have attempted, since then, to paint her again as I did here. Predictably, it has proven futile. Although, Our Lady wears a thousand different skin tones, a thousand names, and a thousand costumes, she stands uniquely untamed in this canvas. This is no Madonna, subjected to patriarchal erasure, no demure, chaste cabbage. Our Lady is imbued with wild sensuality, diaphanous compassion, and revolutionary divinity. She is our lush, boundlessly expansive sanctuary of fearless truth-telling; the fiery daughter of primal white goddesses and Sophianic Mother of the brown mermaids.
* Our Lady was chosen for the 2014 cover of Aurora Literary Magazine.
“Yellow Resurrection” is a 30 x 48 oil on canvas from 2008 and an entirely different variation of previous Pieta-like themes. My BlueMahler character serves as a narrator, composing an exotic interpretation of the Easter theme.
“Christ and the Woman at the Well” is a 2014, 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas. It is painted in monochromatic hues. No water well is depicted. I forgo a narrative in favor of an emotional interaction. Although Christ is recognized as prophet, He learns from her. She teaches him her humanity and it is a vulnerable sharing.
“Escape To A Mysterious Freedom” is one of several paintings inspired by my time in New Mexico. It is a 2007 oil on canvas and depicts a lone, female rider. It is a surreal variation of Gauguin’s Riders On The Beach. The woman is on a tension-filled promenade and the freedom which awaits her is an unknown one. I had read St. John of the Cross’ “Dark Night Of The Soul’ shortly before painting this and that certainly factored in.
“Prayer For A Perilous Descent” is a 45 x 60, 2007 oil on canvas and companion piece to the previous painting. A family is depicted: A mother and father, shielding their children, through a perilous descent while Holy Mother prays for their safety.
“Blue Fugue” is another 2007 companion to “Escape To A Mysterious Freedom” and is 3 ft x 4 ft. St. John Of the Cross and Gauguin inform the painting’s theme and milieu. A lone, male figure rides into a terrain of infinite shadows.
“Passion of Perpetua and Felicity” is a 30 x 40, 2008 oil on canvas, taken from a gnostic text of martyrdom. It is a literal, narrative interpretation, but one saturated with paradoxical emotions, including divine eroticism.
“Married In the Faucet” is a 3 ft x 4 ft 2007 canvas, named after a line from a poem by John M. Bennett (who acted in two of my films. He was Satan in “Jesus and her Gospel of Yes” and George H. Bush in “W.”) The BlueMahler character is depicted in an unconsummated marriage.
“Finger Paint Viscosity” is a 3 ft x 4 ft, 2007 oil on canvas, named after Cheryl Townsend poem (Cheryl played Jesus in my “Jesus and her Gospel of Yes” film). BlueMahler conducts the non-narrative narrative (as he did in the film). Cheryl herself is depicted. Her form echoes the eroticism inherent in her words. There is an Alexander Scriabin-like insect quality to her sexed-up figure.
“Barenboim conducts Pierre Boulez in Chicago” is a 2004 , 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas.
“A Diaphanous Rage” is a 3 ft x 4 ft, 2009 oil on canvas from the western series
” A Laconic Descent” is a 2009 , 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas from the western series.
“Before the Tragedy” is a 2008 oil on canvas from the western series.
“BITTER PAUSE” is a 4 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas from 2009.
“Justifiable Armageddon” is a 4 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas, 2009.
‘Spinal Speech” is a 3 ft x 4 ft oil on canvas, 2010.
* All paintings are for sale. For pricing, serious inquiries may contact us at: email@example.com
** A portion of all sales will go to the Franciscan Hermitage.
Services at my mother’s Pentecostal church were frenzied and long, but there were unquestionable moments of inspired surrealism. From the late 1960s up until about 1980, I was allowed to take my drawing pad to her church and frequently sketched some of the impassioned chaos and performance art playing out before me.
In the early 1990s I found a couple of my childhood sketchpads and began a series of paintings from them. The first of these (and the best) was titled Brother Cobweb, after a comic strip I created on those wooden pews. Although my fictional preacher was not featured in the canvas, it contains Brother Cobweb’s essence and probably stems, in part, from a pronounced influence from Gauguin’s Primitivism.
David Dancing Before The Lord, and Healing Service depict the one time pastor of that parish. Glossolalia and Spiritual feature my mother caught up in charismatic moments. The Apocalyptic Sermon was based off a ho de ho diatribe, delivered by the original pastor (and father of the pastor in the previous paintings). I was intrigued even though it was decidedly not of my spiritual brand.
Proving the old maxim that there is nothing new under the sun, I took a small sketchpad with me to a series of Chicago Symphony Orchestra concerts I attended in the late 1990s. Although I had found much identification in the music of Anton Bruckner, this was the first time I had actually been to a concert of his music, which was conducted by maestro Daniel Barenboim.
The later canvases depict the music of modernist Pierre Boulez , as conducted by himself and Barenboim. My application of Boulez’s kaleidoscopic palette of colors probably is the direct influence of the Blue Riders on my own work.
Although these are a small portion of the paintings from both periods, it is curious, in retrospect, to note that the more intimate compositions are of Barenboim’s Bruckner. Even Barenboim’s Boulez feels more immediately intimate than Boulez’s Boulez.
In personality, the Jewish, extrovert, phenomenally successful Barenboim stands in sharp contrast to the orthodox Catholic introvert Bruckner who struggled most of his life for even meager recognition. Yet, Barenboim located his identification plane in Bruckner’s efforts to erect the metaphoric temple. How authentically Barenboim conveys that can be debated between musicologists and armchair critics.
Attending the concerts, seeing Bruckner performed in the flesh, channeled through Barenboim’s personal, proselytizing zeal for the composer, I found the conducting attune to the expressive, earthy directness of the composition, as opposed to an enigmatic spirituality, which is another way to perform Bruckner, of course. In that sense, I felt Barenboim nailed an inherent, organic character found in Catholic art and expression. My own interpretation of Catholicism is as an earthbound faith, optimistically grounded in humanity.
Belatedly, I sensed a connection between both groups of works that transcends the mere physicality of action drawing in a sketch pad or my subjective interpretation of what was playing out before my eyes. Of course, the two worlds are as far apart as can be imagined. I will quickly dismiss any proposed, erroneous conclusion that might be drawn from those who feel Bruckner’s symphonies too long (and therefore I was simply whittling away my time). Quite the reverse, I often find myself wanting Bruckner’s music to never end, while I almost always anxiously retreated from those charismatic church services. Therein lies a latent connection, perhaps.
When my grandfather introduced me to art and music, I felt this my desired state of nirvana. My exploration of both began very early and through those multifarious Pentecostal layers of heat strokes, feverishly pounding at me through the slaying in the spirit, I unwittingly sought a nexus akin to what Bruckner’s music later, inexplicably provided. In the depth of my interior, I yearned for a sense of shifting sanctuaries.
Interestingly enough, Boulez later tackled Bruckner himself, which initially sent shock waves throughout the music industry. The avant-garde boogey man Boulez conducting Bruckner was seen as something amounting to a type of ideological treason. Yet, when his performance of the monumental 8th symphony was released, it received near universal critical accolades (Reportedly, Boulez consulted the seasoned Brucknerian Barenboim about which edition to use). Boulez’s Bruckner was hardly of the traditional school and the appeal of the results will naturally be dependent on subjective priorities. Aside from that, there remains enormous potential in the latent strangeness and lack of predictability in Boulez, late in career and life, engrossed in the Bruckner 8th.
My expressed observation of these services, separated by 20 years and vastly opposing aesthetics, is filtered through an admittedly idiosyncratic sensibility. In no way will I suggest that others came away with the same or even similar experiences.
©2014 Alfred Eaker
Spiritual ©1996 Alfred Eaker
©2014. Alfred Eaker