Friday, July 27, 2007

Resurrection in Mostar

Resurrection in Mostar
Oil on canvas, 18"x24"

This is the newest painting in my "Meditation on War" series. It's based on a trip that I took from Sarajevo to Mostar during my deployment there in 1996. Mostar was under seige for years and the Old Town along the river took the worst of it, since the river was the boundary line between the Muslim and Croat sections. The buildings in the painting are composites of several structures in the old Muslim section. They were being repaired and re-inhabited, with shops and restaurants starting to open up again.

I'm still doing small paintings for now. They're a lot of fun, really: more spontaneous and much more quickly done than the larger Paintings from Hell that stay on my easel for up to six freakin' months. Rather than making a Statement, these are observations. Or, as an artist friend said, they bear witness.

I'm still working from photographs, which is very much a limitation, especially since I didn't take nearly enough pictures. But in a way, it's also a bit of a liberation. Often, I find that when I'm working on-site, there's a tyranny of reality. I paint what I see as I see it. It's only later, with a bit of mental and emotional distance, that I can look at the image as an image and say, "Dang, that looks like crap!" Working from these photographs, there's already an 11-year distance, so I can pick and choose what I want to play with, while still remaining true to the spirit of the experience.

A while back, I wrote about approaching my paintings more like a journalist approaches a story. I'm obviously not doing that yet. But these pictures, I think, are laying the groundwork for it.

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