Many Artists have recurring themes.
For some it is as simple as flowers or horses, but my recurring theme has been African women (among other things) and they are usually carrying things on their heads.
There are reasons, though they may not be obvious, why I keep bringing them into my paintings.
There is, of course, an innate beauty, given the colorful traditional clothes I let them wear, and the rich color of skin tones. They are, I think, a joy to paint.
Some walk in a dreamscape. Here, they are walking in the night, in designer dresses perhaps,
not realistic you say?
Well, it is a dreamscape after all, and also one of my personal favorite paintings....
Sometimes they show up as bit players in a larger scene, as in this strange and otherworldly piece.
At other times they wander post-industrial squigglescapes....
These women have come to symbolize various things to me. Though I realize in the real world, carrying things around on your head is likely a laborious activity that no one wants to do.
Including me of course.
Yet, the simple task is somehow poetic. There is a lyrical balance and symmetry, and
given the possibly laborious task involved, it actually seems quite beautiful.
Perhaps as the world changes, it is one of those
things that will be lost (not unhappily I might think, to those involved) with the passing of time.
There is also an implied communal aspect, as these women (I like to think) are friends, joking and talking as they do their task. In our culture we sit watching TVs and fiddling with our phones
and hardly know our neighbors. In a village, you have strong ties with others, and I think I am reminded of our loss in that regard, when I paint these paintings.
And there is also a feeling of "Paradise lost" I suppose, though I am not so naive as to think that "nature" was ever a state of bliss. But it's easy enough to imagine Africa as a place in balance at some time in the past, and a place out of balance now.
I sometimes feel a bit of apprehension when I watch African American women looking at my paintings of their African kin - what do they think? Hopefully nothing bad, because my paintings
are meant as a compliment to a people and a culture, even though I used stylized images to get there.
Here is to the women of Africa, perhaps not as they actually are, but as I imagine them to be.