Tag Archives: contemporary

The Lebowski Cycle – Sacred and Profane Love

Sacred and Profane Love (After Titian) • Joe Forkan 2011 oil on linen, 72" x 40" (182.88 cm x 101.60 cm)

I’m currently finishing the framing of the last of the paintings in the studio headed for the show at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion. I framed 10 paintings this last weekend, with help from some friends. Delivering work on Monday.

Sacred and Profane Love Titian - c. 1513-1514 oil on canvas 118 cm × 279 cm (46" × 110") Galleria Borghese, Rome

My studio is going to seem really empty after sending off 14 large scale paintings for the show.

This piece is based on Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love. I’ll write more on the series once it is all installed, but wanted to post this recently completed painting from the Cycle.

Detail - Sacred and Profane Love (After Titian) • Joe Forkan 2011

The Lebowski Cycle at The Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA • Sept 10 – Oct 28, 2011 – UPDATE

Paintings in progress in my Santa Ana studio

I’m pleased to announce that I will be having a large solo exhibition of  paintings from The Lebowski Cycle at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA from September 10 – October 28, 2011.

The exhibition will be the first show on the fall calendar for the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion and will include fourteen large scale paintings from The Lebowski Cycle, as well as many smaller works and sketches, painted over the last four and a half years. The timing couldn’t be better, as the series is currently close to completion.

The Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion is a beautiful 3,400 sq feet exhibition space, that has recently hosted shows by Ron English and Alex Grey, among others. I will be working with Director Andrea Harris in organizing the fall show, and it will be great to see the series installed there.

The Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion at Orange Coast College

I’m looking forward to a summer in the studio completing the paintings that are still underway, including a fairly new twelve foot diptych based on Géricault’s massive Raft of the Medusa.

I will be posting process images of paintings from the series as they move towards completion over the coming months, as well as more information about the exhibition.

An exhibition catalog is planned, and more information will be available at the time of the show.

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 10th 6-10pm
OCC Frank M Doyle Arts Pavilion
2701 Fairview Rd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Parking in lot D9 off Merrimac
For info and direction:

The Lebowski Cycle – The Oath of the Horatii

Oath of the Horatii • Joe Forkan 2006-2010 Oil on Linen 72" x 40"

David’s Oath of the Horatii was the painting that initially inspired the Lebowski Cycle, for reasons I explained in my first post on the series. It was also the first one I started painting after I planned the series and stretched all the canvases, so it has undergone a lot of changes in the four years it’s been on and off the easel.

Oath of the Horatii Jacques-Louis David 1784 Oil on canvas 326 cm × 420 cm (128" × 165") Louvre, Paris

I’ll post more about the process soon, but wanted to get this up on the blog.

Below is an early sketch playing with the rhythms of the compostion, and the overall palette of the painting.

Oath of the Horatii • Joe Forkan 2007 pastel on paper 24 x 18

Congratulations to Jeff Bridges

Oath of the Horatii - detail (in progress) • Joe Forkan 2010 oil on canvas 72" x 40

It was great to see Jeff Bridges win the Best Actor Oscar last night for his performance in Crazy Heart, 38 years after his first nomination. I’ve always enjoyed his performances, but my appreciation for his acting has certainly grown since watching The Big Lebowski innumerable times while working on The Lebowski Cycle.

The image above is a detail from The Oath of the Horatii, based on the Jacques-Louis David painting of the same name. The full painting is almost complete and I’ll be posting it soon.

The Lebowski Cycle – The Supper at Emmaus

Supper at Emmaus (After Caravaggio) • Joe Forkan 2006-2009 oil on linen 96"x 38"

This painting is based on Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus from 1601, which illustrates a dramatic moment from the story of Jesus’ resurrection. I was interested in Caravaggio’s take on the story because of his depiction of the moment of discovery, when the disciple’s “eyes were opened”, and for his symbolic use of the still life to reinforce the central idea of his painting.

Supper at Emmaus Caravaggio 1601 Oil on canvas 141 cm × 196.2 cm (55.5 in x 77.25 in) National Gallery, London

The symbolic references used in the paintings of this time period are somewhat obscure to us now, it is still clear from looking at the work that each figure, element, and gesture was an important consideration in the presentation of the story, all subsumed into the final image. One of the qualities that I most enjoy about narrative painting is that there is a clear story to be presented, but the specific events of the narrative give you great latitude for formal, conceptual or expressive shifts and digressions that can set a different tone or shift the story’s implications.

In my painting, I was looking to create a kind of visual and narrative tension between the figures, the dramatic space, and the still life, one that is suggestive of a larger narrative, and that hopefully moves beyond the specifics of the Jesus story, the Lebowski story, or the Caravaggio story, but retains a shifting, if uneasy relationship between all three, in addition to where I am trying to go with the content and the formal elements.

Detail from the Supper at Emmaus • Joe Forkan 2009

I hesitate to be any more forthcoming about my intentions for these paintings, in that I don’t want to set a specific read for anyone else. Painting is, after all, a language of its own and in this regard, I will let the paintings speak for themselves.

This painting was one of the most complex of The Lebowski Cycle. Its scale was daunting (96″ x 38″ / 243.84 cm x 96.52 cm), with 3 main figures that are slightly over life-size, and a deep space that I wanted to paint in a specific way. I wanted the background to be largely empty, but not in the way that Caravaggio’s paintings are empty, through the use of chiaroscuro (the contrasting effects of intense light and deep shadow). I was looking to represent space and to convey a sense of light and shadow through the relationships of large color shapes, rather than using a more dramatic recession into shadow.

This painting will be included in the Laguna Art Museums exhibition The OsCene 2010 –  Contemporary Art and Culture in Orange County from February 21st – May 16, 2010.