Gandhi’s Receiving Room

The Receiving Room, watercolor on paper, 5 x 7 in. 1991

The Receiving Room, watercolor on paper, 5 x 7 in. 1991

When I visited the home of Mahatma Gandhi near Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where he sat and worked and met heads of state; I was moved to make this miniature painting of the receiving room. I wanted to be present there with him in the painting, so I chose Marcel Duchamp’s readymade Bicycle Wheel 1913 as my avatar.

The Receiving Room. Photo Dr. Unni

The Receiving Room. Photo Dr. Unni

 

In his studio Duchamp mounted a bicycle wheel upside down onto a stool, spinning it occasionally just to watch it. Although it is often assumed that theBicycle Wheel represents the first of Duchamp’s “Readymades”, this particular installation was never submitted for any art exhibition, and it was eventually lost. However, initially, the wheel was simply placed in the studio to create atmosphere: “I enjoyed looking at it just as I enjoy looking at the flames dancing in a fireplace.”

Why so glum Mr Duchamp.

Why so glum Mr Duchamp?

I guess the one in the readymade in the window just isn’t the same, bummer. On another note, here  is another readymade reference in a drawing I did while doing my general military training in Petawawa, in the summer of 1977 just after graduating from The Ontario College of Art.

Plato's little readymades, ink on paper, 14 x 11 in., 1977

Plato’s little readymades, ink on paper, 14 x 11 in., 1977

 

Struggles with the Inner Temptress

napob.com   1994

Inner Temptress, (recovery book), gouache on paper, 17 x 14 in., 1994

I can’t recall ever having a conversation with any man about his inner temptress, I don’t even know if anyone has ever experience that sensation.

In the making of art, especially over an extended period of time, meaning many years and what appears to be various lifetimes you shape shift into different beings.  My inner temptress is a reckless personality that can manifest sometimes and take me on a wild and dangerous dyonesian ride.

Anima's Visit, gouache on paper, (recovery book)14 x 17 in., 1994

Anima’s Visit, gouache on paper, (recovery book)14 x 17 in., 1994

These paintings are from a large workbook I call my Recovery Book. After a year of not painting I started the book while dealing with a severe bout of gender dysphoria, something I have wrestled with since I was a child. The emotional turbulence during these times disrupts my entire life and consumes my thoughts all the time, I become very depressed and alienated from all the people around me; so this time I decided to focus the energy by doing one painting a day in the book. It is a very suffocating feeling when the body you occupy feels alien and like a prison.

What do you see, (recovery book) gouache on paper,  17 x 28 in., 1994

What do you see, (recovery book) gouache on paper, 17 x 28 in., 1994

 

 

 

“Big Oil on Canvas”

Peak Oil, Oil on canvas, 36 x 32 in., 1999

Peak Oil, Oil on canvas, 36 x 32 in., 1999

Peak Oil is a representation of the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop Salt Dome in Beaumount, Texas, January 10th 1901. This gusher marked the beginning of the Texas oil boom, there was so much oil found at Spindletop that by 1914 gas was selling at 3 cents a barrel. In the painting a large sky face to the right glances down furtively as if knowing where this road leads. The left side of the canvas reveals what appears to be stacks of skulls.

Black Gold, oil on canvas, 36 x 32 in., 2002

Black Gold, oil on canvas, 36 x 32 in., 2002

misterbitumen

Mister Bitumen, Oil and epoxy on panel, 66 x 44 in, 2009

Mister Bitumen was created in protest of the Alberta Oil Sands project and it’s toxic impact on the communities as it is pumped through the country, in the air to the world at large, and in the ground water of nearby communities. Mister Bitumen is a reluctant player in the money game and big oil.

Sign Avaaz Petition in support of the people of Mattawa Ontario. 

follow link

 https://secure.avaaz.org/en/dont_silence_mattawa_e/?cdTwScb

Pipeline giant TransCanada just secured an entire town’s silence with a $30,000 “gift” — preventing the town council from speaking out about a dangerous new tar sands pipe. But a massive uproar can still kill this dirty deal and win back the town’s voice.

Giant oil companies are fighting hard to snake these tar sands pipelines across our country — and deals like this let them plow through without resistance. But now the company is on the defensive and says that they will cut out the silencing clause “if necessary”. On Monday, Mattawa’s town council will meet and have the chance to demand they to do just that.

It isn’t easy to stand up to a huge corporation, but the small Ontario town of Mattawa can do it. We only have days to act! Click to sign the petition, and Avaaz will deliver it straight to the city council meeting.

“Reshaping memory with Painting”

"Raj Rabbit"

“Raj Rabbit, 1994

Like in most shape shifting stories, we begin in the shadow of death not nesesarly your own but death’s door as it opens to gobble up the escaping soul. In nineteen eighty four  while living adjacent to an  Native American burial ground to the north of Bancroft, Ontario I painted a long forgotten moment. I was spending the winter there after leaving Toronto and my security guard job at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was preparing to move to New York City, My then wife Patty and I had figured we could shift our mindset and prepare for a long and prosperous life in New York by first shaking off Toronto and aligning with NYC. I spent that winter in a cabin buried under six feet of snow, snowshoeing,  reading every book I had ever bought that I hadn’t read and then some, loving, dreaming, baking, painting. The most enduring works of that period and one of few to survive was a painting of a fleshy pink rabbit mid jump. 

rabbit_napob

Rabbit Resurrection, 1985

I have left out one detail of the painting, the rabbit is jumping over what appears to be a red spike, and for me I always imagined the rabbit was balanced as if floating, suspended in time over  the red spike.

Finally we moved to NYC and the painting was shown at the Bond Gallery in the Bowery.  I was amazed it took me so long to see what was in  plain sight, a memory from childhood and a forgotten traumatic day, it all came back to me my rabbit, my first childhood pet.  A lean white rabbit with bright pink eyes that I got for Easter when I was seven years old and I lived in Ottawa. I kept my rabbit in the basement which was  unfinished, really unfinished, it had an earthen floor and so it made a perfect place for the rabbit to hang out. During the basement renovations my rabbit was sliced open while jumping over a large spike in a piece of timber. That was my first experience with death, I remember sitting in the backyard, balling my eyes out for most of an afternoon til my mom suggested we maybe bury the rabbit and have a funeral. So we got a shoe box and the rest is like most kids burying household pet’s funerals.

This was an Easter rabbit, a fertility rabbit, a signal spring was arriving, and the rabbit had to be resurrected, it was Easter after. Once I realized where this rabbit image had come from I repainted it many times, suspended. A rabbit talisman floating between life and death.  I still have that painting with me but the best part of the rabbit painting is that over time I  transmuted the rabbit, shape shifting it into multiple expressions of a rabbit figure alive, prosperous and contented in the world. 

rabbitt_napob

“Rabbit with Fertility Head Dress” 1996

Hidden Message_napob

Hidden Meaning, 2002

 

 

 

Image

“Hello Neighbour”

 

Hello Neighbor,  www.napob.com

Hello Neighbor, napo b -1999

On a hillside covered in human skulls a man clutches his bowler hat  holding what appears to be a skull in his  right hand. He is slyly greeting a man wading across a toxic river  who is unsuspectingly tipping his pointy hat.

What intrigued me in this image is that suspended moment where a meeting can go either way; how all over the world people of different cultures forced across borders, refugees vulnerable to old grudges and at the mercy of the unknown.

The painting was created in a few minutes using prepared rollers, this technique ensures the unduplicatable quality of the original work.

“Hangin’ with Harry”

In the last year of his life, my father in law Harry Greene and I spent many hours talking about a variety of subjects. I just re-discovered this video which was recorded with cell phone as we talked about human rights, human origins, death and aliens. At the time of this video Harry was 96, I miss his laughter and wanted to share this with Elijah my step son.