Tag Archives: Jesus

The Lebowski Cycle – Jester (After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid)

Jester (After Velazquez's Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid) • Joe Forkan oil on linen, 48" x 76" (121.92 cm x 193.04 cm)

THE LEBOWSKI CYCLE – (Wall text from the exhibition) The Lebowski Cycle is a series of paintings and drawings exploring layered narratives, using masterpieces of European art and the 1998 Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski as a starting point.  The series is the result of a longstanding interest in narrative painting, particularly paintings from the Baroque and Neoclassical eras; complex figurative works that depict grand story arcs, compressing a multitude of thoughts, ideas and emotions into a singular image. However, it is the human interactions and conflicts, formal qualities, and modes of depiction that were as interesting to me as the specific stories. I wanted to explore these ideas, but looked for a way to mitigate the grand seriousness that historical and religious paintings often contain. I started thinking about The Big Lebowski, (a favorite film, obviously) trying to imagine how the characters, humor and preposterous story arc of the film might be enlisted to explore multiple points of view, moods, and intentions if combined with themes and titles from well-known works of European art. The combination led to hybrid images that reference art history, film, and contemporary art, from sources that inform, overlap and may even contradict each other, all run back through the imprecise language of painting. – Joe Forkan

Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid • Diego Velázquez 1636-1637 Oil on canvas 212.4 cm × 125 cm (49.2" x 84") Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Fifer • Edouard Manet 18 Oil on canvas 161 cm x 97 cm (63" x 38 1/2") Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Detail - Jester (After Velazquez's Portrait of Pablo de Valladolid) • Joe Forkan oil on linen, 48" x 76" (121.92 cm x 193.04 cm)

The Lebowski Cycle at The Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, CA • Sept 10 – Oct 28, 2011 Opening Reception: Saturday, September 10th 6-10pm

The Lebowski Cycle – Venus (After Titian)

Venus • Joe Forkan 2011, oil on linen, 72" x 50"

Here is another painting from The Lebowski Cycle. I was looking at Titian’s Venus of Urbino and Manet’s Olympia. I’ll be posting more on this soon.

Venus of Urbino • Titian 1538 Oil on canvas 119 cm × 165 cm (47" × 65") Uffizi, Florence

Olympia • Édouard Manet 1863 Oil on canvas 130.5 cm × 190 cm (51.4" × 74.8") Musée d'Orsay, Paris

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

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 10th 6-10pm

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 – The Agony in the Garden

The Agony in the Garden (After Carracci) • Joe Forkan 2006-2011 oil on linen, 76" x 48" (193.04 cm x 121.92)

Here’s another recently completed painting from The Lebowski Cycle. The fall show at The Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion is rapidly approaching, and I’m wrapping up paintings that have literally been in constant renegotiation in the studio for years.

This one, like about half of the paintings in the series, is based on paintings dealing with traditional Bible stories. The Agony in the Garden has been a subject for religious paintings dating back to at least the 13th century. Biblical and mythological stories have a surprising amount of variation in how they are depicted and reinterpreted by artists of different eras. For this painting, I was specifically looking at Carracci’s Agony in the Garden from about 1590, but also at paintings by Sandro Botticelli’s from 1500 and Adriaen van de Velde from 1665.

…and I was also looking at The Big Lebowski, or course.

The Agony in the Garden Ludovico Carracci - about 1590 Oil on canvas 100.3 cm x 114.3 cm (39.5" x 45") The National Gallery, London

Working within the traditions of genre and narrative as an approach to making paintings may not leave a lot of room for the invention of new forms or for a great deal of formal novelty, but superimposing multiple narratives does seem to allow for divergent and complicated takes on each of the stories.

Looking through western art you can see the number of ways these well worn narratives have been reconfigured, both to communicate older themes to new audiences, and also to use the stories as a leaping off point for other purposes.

I think that in genre and narrative painting, where the structures are a given, whatever is different from the story as it was received by the artist becomes part of the content.

Hopefully, there are a lot of ways to enter the work.

Agony in the Garden Sandro Botticelli 1500 Tempera on panel, 53 x 35 cm Capilla Real, Granada

Agony in the Garden Adriaen van de Velde 1665, oil on canvas, 126 x 154 cm, private collection

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.