I tried to come at this painting from many different directions. I had been thinking about the tension between figuration and abstraction in painting method and painting movements, particularly the many different directions in painting since the Neoclassical period, when David was working.
David used his paintings to extol the virtue’s of the state. The Death of Marat was essentially a political document from the French revolution. “David was active in numerous agencies of the reign of terror, and historians have identified more than 300 victims for whom David signed execution orders” (source). The idea of a contemporary artist signing execution orders for the state fortunately seems quite odd and extremely unlikely.
Abstract and minimalist works are a departure from the depiction of reality by way of representational imagery and are often considered apolitical.
I was thinking very much about the collision of those styles and ideologies as I painted this, and was drawn to de Kooning’s Excavation and the work of Brice Marden.
A recurring joke in The Big Lebowski is that Uli (the man floating in the pool) is a nihilist. -”He doesn’t care about anything”.
“That must be exhausting,” Lebowski replies.