A Debt in Venice


Now that I’m in a PhD program in Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art Theory (at IDSVA), I feel that I ought to say something profound about the works of art that I’m making. But—perhaps this is a good thing—I find it more difficult to write about the work that to actually make it. Part of the problem, I realize, is a desire to give an explanation in the correct context. Doing so, however, makes me feel obligated to go back to the beginning of whatever train of thought that manifests itself in the art. That’s ironic, though, because in the works of art themselves, I never feel compelled to do that. Visually, it seems to me that the context is built in, since a work of art creates its own world to exist in. An explanatory text, on the other hand, seems forlorn: “If I, Little Text, were more interesting, I’d be a work of art, too!”

This painted collage, entitled A Debt in Venice, was started at Spannocchia Castle during my residency there with IDSVA. The original collaged elements were the phallic constructions flanking the figure. Those are actually Italian cheeses, not penises! The figure is not a collage, but a drawing based on an Adonis statue of late Antiquity, that I subsequently painted. The background is an abstracted landscape that I sketched several years ago and never painted, but turned from “landscape” to “portrait.” What I wanted to do was to assimilate the experiences of my time in Italy from the perspective of being back home in Seattle. I was inspired to do (what I hope is blatantly) homo-erotic imagery, inspired by the candid discussions of sexuality during our IDSVA residency, with a particular (or perhaps I mean peculiar?) nod to George Smith’s lectures on Freud. George let it all hang out, so to speak. . .The title A Debt in Venice is an homage to Thomas Mann. The Hotel des Bains from A Death in Venice was a short walk from our hotel on the Lido. My thanks to Simonetta Moro for pointing it out. I would have never remembered since I read Death many years ago!

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