ACT I - THE LAST SUPPER
[Towards the end of Act I before the rest of the figures were revealed]
-SMASHLABS - Los Angeles- April 2nd 2010-
I was going to post last night but I got home and passed out...
Last night was the culmination of three weeks of working till dawn. I'm still not sure how to even talk about it because I have nothing really to compare it to. But like I said I was going to do...I did. I painted "Broken - The Last Supper" live at SMASHLABS on Good Friday in three acts...
not that I even knew what that meant.
At 72"x 244" not only was it the largest work I've created live...it was the largest work I've done period. 72 square feet of finished painting - over a thousand dollars in materials alone and 400+ working hours in preparation and it was going to rest on what happened in a three hour time span with people watching...and me the entire time wondering if anyone beyond the friends who were there were even going to get it...or care.
A Last Supper...an iconic subject inextricably connected with the works of DaVinci, Dali, Jacopo and numerous others....and who was I to even think that I was going to put my hand to this...let alone with a group of 23+ mentally and physically disabled adults shot with what ended up being a toy camera? Nothing of this project should logically have happened. But it did...
So at 8:30 with people starting to gather and the three panels now covered in thick black oil paint, I started. Because that's all you can do...start.
I felt like I walked through a door. For much of the time I was in another world. I would swim in and out of that world throughout the night but for much of it I was just simply "lost" in the best sense of the world. At the beginning of a painting you find yourself without a map in the darkness and you work to find your way home with the tools you have. I'd watch my hands do things that I wasn't expecting. I made choices I normally wouldn't have. I was watching myself from the outside being conducted by another.
"You want Payne's Gray on the arms? Really? Ok..."
ACT II was tough. By this time I sensed that the room was full but the choices were becoming more subtle - not "performance" kind of stuff. I became a little more self conscious but avoided the temptation to do things for show. This is when the highlighting of what were basically hidden bodies appeared. Not a choice I would have made but one that I think transformed the work. By ACT III I was tired and people were reaching the threshold of how long they could watch in silence. It's why I only do 10 minute performances.
I felt I lost the other world and struggled to get back there.
But you don't find it...it finds you. Eric turned up the music and I simply kept going. The Voice returned. I saw "Home" and painted towards it. The piece began to "breath out" on its own and have it's own life. We were at the final song and I was sitting quietly at a distance watching it...and then I knew I had to change the main figure. In the last sixty seconds I covered and completely repainted the entire figure. The paint was still running down the panel when I signed it. I turned and there were the people who steadfastly stayed for the entire three hours. I couldn't have been more grateful. I felt like I had done something that mattered. Maybe not to the masses but for those who needed it.
I was prepared for the melancholy that invariably arrives. She comes quietly in through the side door and sits with you. In this case it was me with the bottle of Laphroaig scotch that Crunchy generously gave me and we drank together. Sometimes mountaintops don't feel them. I thanked silently again everyone who had put their hand to this...but the sadness is still there.
Now you're just a dude covered in paint.
What will happen from here I don't know. I hope the piece has a life. It's a good work. But that's not for me to be concerned about now. Now I clean up the mass of scraps and glue and dirty socks that clutter the studio here at Theory.
It's Easter now...and I wish you all a special one...