48×84″, oil on canvas
Our time is a time of the difference, when, more than ever, Identities are performed. We believe we can be what we want to be. The Jacques Baustista show highlights and questions the ideas surrounding the hyperbolic quality of persona of the artist . Holding the fringes of our existence are artists. Writers, Performers, Craftspersons, Musicians, weaving histories based on an especial and subjective interpretations; expanding our shared experience. In exchange we give them an allowance of eccentricity and the specificity of an inflated proper name, that big “I” that easily becomes the obnoxious manifestation of a blown up ego. (more…)
Wild boars live on Mount Subasio, and I knew I could feel them watching me with evil intentions for the American wandering in Umbria. Strange snakes, tall grasses, yellow Ginestrella, and still this place feels familiar. I was walking some of the same paths St. Francis walked some 900 years ago.
Pedaling Saint Francis
“Porziuncola, also called Portiuncula (in Latin) or Porzioncula, is a small church located within the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi in the frazione of Santa Maria degli Angeli, situated about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Assisi, Umbria (central Italy). It is the place from where the Franciscan movement started.
Feeling his end approaching, St. Francis asked to be brought back to the Porziuncola in September 1226. On his death-bed St. Francis recommended the chapel to the faithful protection and care of his brethren. He died, in his cell, not fifteen yards from the church, at sunset on Saturday, 3 October 1226.
However this may be, here or in this neighbourhood was the cradle of the Franciscan Order. After the death of Francis, the spiritual value and the charisma of the Porziuncola became even greater. St. Francis himself pointed out the Portiuncola as a primary source of inspiration and a model for all his followers.
That Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels though. A towering tribute to humility. I chuckled.
4 am and my Italian coffee is brewed. Sitting in my studio I get to peruse images on Instagram from other parts of our planet, aesthetics strange and unfamiliar. A lot of schlep but something other than my familiar surroundings. The fog lifts slowly, and I try to paint before the fog lifts entirely
This is my pre painting ritual. I don’t talk too much about my work as I have learned not to expect many viewers to be where I have been. The search for metaphor and original thought (I don’t believe in creativity, only honesty). And let’s face it, narrative painting is such a tightly wound anal retentive pursuit that more often than not it only serves to give the viewer what they already know. I seek what I don’t know. Otherwise, why bother to look at all except to serve the ego?
I was working what I thought may be a reinterpretation of the state of Limbo; holding a thought loosely as a point of departure into a welcome state of not knowing I was working with models in dialogues from halfway around the globe enticing the notion of Sonder, the realization that passersby endure lives as complex as my own, from a respectful distance.
Enter Alan Kurdi
My pre painting surf habit and an image of a boy lying face down by the seaside seemed disturbingly peaceful, and cognitively dissonant. I responded with a “?” And proceeded to paint as the news unfolded layer in that morning and the dark truth hit me. As a new father I saw my son and felt the sting.
Making a place for “son” became the purpose for this painting. Limbo, Heaven, or the hell of a thousand breasts, it didn’t matter anymore.
Narrative painting to me has always been about a sense of theater, the willful suspension of disbelief, but mostly a sense of wonder. Here I felt I had met the sense of the sublime , c’est plus grande que moi, the passing of Alan Kurdi, and my own flailings at fatherhood to Truxton.
Terror, bewilderment, and finally peace.
The Story Behind the Peace Prayer of St. Francis
The Peace Prayer of St. Francis is a famous prayer which first appeared around the year 1915 A.D., and which embodies the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi’s simplicity and poverty.
According to Father Kajetan Esser, OFM, the author of the critical edition of St. Francis’s Writings, the Peace Prayer of St. Francis is most certainly not one of the writings of St. Francis. This prayer, according to Father Schulz, Das sogennante Franziskusgebet. Forshungen zur evangelishen Gebetslitteratur (III), in Jahrbuch fur Liturgik und Hymnologie, 13 (1968), pp. 39-53, first appeared during the First World War. It was found written on the observe of a holy card of St. Francis, which was found in a Normal Almanac. The prayer bore no name; but in the English speaking world, on account of this holy card, it came to be called the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.
More information about this prayer can be found in Friar J. Poulenc, OFM, L’inspiration moderne de la priere « Seigneru faites de moi un instrument de votre paix », Archivum Franciscanum Historicum, vol. 68 (1975) pp. 450-453.
The Peace Prayer of St. Francis
by an anonymous Norman c. 1915 A.D. Peace Prayer
Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, Let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, truth; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, Joy.
O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled As to console; To be understood,as to understand; To be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
“Sand” r and b, jazz, blues, ambient
(Click on Sand above)
Intending to paint about St. Francesco of Assisi was first in my proposal to the Artestudio Ginestrella. Though Inaccuratley attributed, the prayer of St. Francesco embodies keys to my own character defects, offering solutions and raising my conscious awareness of my relationship to my fellow man. In my research my curiosity was piqued by the formation of the city, visits to the Fortezza and the Roman Tribunal beneath the square led me to explore the idea of the sacred feminine through the remnants of Minerva. Having witnessed resulting attempts at iconoclasm in other places, (in Nicosia Cypress a gothic Catholic cathedral had been redressed as a Muslim place of worship, and in Firenze, the Baptistry of Santa Maria del Fiore was once a pagan temple) I was curious about the persistence of faith, memory, and ultimately our relationship to this much higher idea found in God. I made many paintings and drawings. I citied the clever, the drama, the ego. Each with a seed of truth. "The Eye of my Son as the rose Window of St. Francesco" came out of these attempts, and personalized the public. My narrative becomes our narrative, and vice versa. Almost two full weeks passed before the inspiration visited me. I sat with St. Francesco at his tomb. I watched the monks, devoted, walking through the city. A rope, tied at the waist with three knots, is not only functional, but also a reminder of their vows. "This is my Rope" I offer this drawing as a reminder. I have my vows, my code. I fall short. The knots emulate the technique used by the monks encircling me. A deeper understanding of my place here has been offered. A cord surrounds me, I begin and end my walk in the woods with St. Francesco.
Of Drawings from the edge…
During late Medieval and Renaissance times the people of Florence, Italy would urinate in the river and laugh at the population of Siena. While living in New Mexico I would wonder at the population in Texas and repeat a similar behavior. Yet the river is not ours. Our beloved Rio Grande Valley is a flood plain. We are visitors all, and the river outlives us.
Artists are courted guardedly by our society. (Admittedly maybe it’s just me, but I doubt that). This exhibition consists of two seemingly disparate bodies of work, each a denial of culturally assumed responsibilities of artists and our self-imposed role in creation and manipulation; river drawings, paintings, and photographs documenting rejection. These objects and images are evidence of my search for something that resembles “c’est plus grande que moi”, (it is bigger than me)
“What if?” The question every artist must ask was answered by the river. With a nod to artist and Boulder Colorado native Basia Irland, I sought to honor the Rio Grande. A body of water always (almost) in motion, we seek to use to scribe our landscape and identity. Even, and perhaps more importantly in an academic environment the artist accesses media rarely accessed by a pedestrian population; that of the muse, the elements, and the chaos revealed through time.
Beginning near the headwaters at a quiet campground in Three Forks, Colorado I gently placed and weighted a piece of paper near the water’s edge. The River is the artist here. I am only one who asks a question. This process was repeated several times along the river; Near Taos at Wild Rivers National Recreation Area, a rare wilderness and favorite haunt, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and finally near Mcallen, Texas. The river carries us in its body. I sought to capture those traces, or ask the river to show them to me.
Separation, gleaning the motives
Another group of work stems from a similar conceptual rejection. A photograph of a piece of paper clipped to a tree branch in the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Colorado. The paper is identical to the ones used in the river drawings. Rives BFK etching paper retains much of the water and airborne particulates. Paintings were born of this process. But that comes later. The serene view in front of me offered two choices;
- To create an image for the viewers’ consumption (“my, look at that tree, see there’s the flower, and that cloud”), or,
- To consume the view metaphorically, allowing it to move me through the subconscious, accessing personal notes and ideas.
I saw clearly how I made choices based on pleasing others. Making an image to please the viewer is relatively easy. Performing artistic feats of magic was seeming more difficult and that muse was recalcitrant. I chose neither. I clipped the paper to a tree and took a photograph of it. Voila! A landscape drawing revealed itself in its unadulterated potential. The obvious circle to complete was then to paint using the photographs as reference, reclaiming my societal role as draftsman, artist, and entertainer.
Thomas Murray, Feb, 2015