BABAJI IN BARCELONA
All paintings go through a metamorphosis. Picasso said something like, “Painting is a series of creations and destructions.” It is not merely an additive process. Sometimes a change is made that destroys the nature of the previous phase. Not always is this “destruction” for the better. But it is always in the momentum of this creative/destructive dynamic, therefore other Forces are called into play.
A basic theme is established. That is given. And most of the time this theme is maintained throughout. For instance, this Babaji spoke out to me, “Include the hand.” I remembered a Leonardo Da Vinci portrait that impressed me with the use of a hand: “Portrait of a Musician.” The touch of the fingers grounds our own “touch” in the picture. We feel the man’s presence, our presence. It is like we are “meeting him” in person.
To create this “palpable presence,” there is always a factor of the Unknown in any creative project dedicated to this direct communication. That is what makes it creative. In fact, the Unknown is the SOURCE of inspiration and creativity. Granted there have to be the basic skills of the known behind any craft. But the moment that pushes these skills beyond the edges of the “known” is from a SOURCE in which the line between being or not being is very faint. I knew about Leonardo’s use of the hand, but not about my own use of the hand in portraits of Babaji. That was my risk of jumping into the Unknown.
The other new factor in this painting is that I composed it in a “square.” Usually I do not work in a square. I feel better about a rectangle that is taller than it is wide. But for some reason I was guided to the square format. There is a “square” format on my iPhone camera, and Instagram composes in Squares. So I thought I would move with this momentum of the technology out there.
The more “sketchy phases” of the painting in the beginning are usually fresh and spontaneous. The painterly strokes of the brush, in their rough qualities, are more apparent. It is always a question for me, how “tight” do I want to take the painting? I try to maintain the freshness of beginning stages in the progress of more specific definition. But once a decision is made to “tighten up” an area, there is usually no “going back” to the phase before: the phase before is destroyed. So this is what Picasso meant: “Painting is a series of creations and destructions.” I have to be OK with the “destructions, and the “not going back” aspect of moving forward.
In this final version of “Babaji in Barcelona,” which is roughly 140 cm’s X 140 cm’s, (about 55 inches by 55 inches), I wanted the “touch of the hand” coming into play with the direct gaze of the face. I wanted the painterly qualities to be maintained, yet have clear definition of the elements and the color. The tip of the nose is at the “geographic center” of the square, which lends a very balanced composition. I struggled with the background a bit at the end, until Sondra said to me, “Just paint it green.” So that is what I did, with a “halo” of yellow. Bole Baba Ki Jai! I finished the painting in Szczecin, Poland.
I am taking bids now for this new painting, starting at $2500 USD plus shipping costs. Send bids to firstname.lastname@example.org Enjoy. MARKUS RAY