New Art: “The Last Supper” (Tribute to Emil Nolde)

“The Last Supper” by Emile Nolde, 1909. The Last Supper (After Emile Nolde), by Eric Wayne, 2017. [click to see sized for your monitor.]

If you are thinking something along the lines of, “Why the hell would anyone draw THAT in 2017?”, than I think you’ve answered your own question. Precisely. Why do something anyone else would do? And no I’m not religious or anti-religious.

The Last Supper (After Emile Nolde), by Eric Wayne: digital drawing, 20×30″ @300 dpi,10/31/017

Please notice:

  • The alien and its hand on the woman’s head.
  • The whole snake.
  • The staring big eye of the guy on the left (half a head, like in the Nolde painting).
  • The guy with his tongue out.
  • The skull.
  • The guy with his eyes sewn shut (front).
  • There are a couple other fun details I’ll let you discover on your own.

I started this many months ago while experimenting with some of my custom digital impasto painting techniques which looked a lot like expressionist brushstrokes. And I was thinking of doing a cover of a Chaim Soutine painting, but then decided to throw down the gauntlet and go full Emil Nolde “Last Supper”. THAT was my favorite German Expressionist, or any Expressionist painting when I was 18/19 years old.

Here’s a sample of that digital, Expressionist, impasto style.

Fanzilet in the mirror, with the pox, by Eric Wayne.

and a detail:

Yup, THAT is digital paint.

OK, one more:

I’ve made physical paintings, and those lips are really painterly.

One fine day when I was still barely in my teens I decided to go through the entire Janson History of Art. I wasn’t taking an art history class (that would come several times over later on), but looking at a book on a friend’s bookshelf. And by “go through” I mean just look at the pictures. And on that particular day my clear favorite painting, the one that really stood out, was Nolde’s “Last Supper”. Behold:

“The Last Supper” by Emile Nolde, 1909.

I was struck by its expressive power. At the time some of my most realized work was done with a mechanical pencil, which means drawing all the lines and little details with a thin lead. This was the complete opposite. This was done in thick paint, the figures were rendered roughly, and its simplicity humbly captured all the complexity. It had an intangible mood about it, which is something certain songs had for me that placed them among my favorites. Not something like happy or sad, but a unique mood that relates more to a feeling of place and/or time.

Right, I didn’t make it into a digital painting. I started it as a drawing, abandoned it (I did my whole series of 45 drawings/paintings from the imagination since), and then finally decided to finish it. During working on that series I developed a unique way of doing very bold black & white drawings, and they have a certain dramatic potential that’s hard to match using color. I used the style in my last few drawings, which are kinda’ really dark.

There’s something mysterious about this style, and since I rely on what I see starting within non-representational marks and smudges, it’s all a matter of using the imagination and looking and waiting for things to surface from the unconscious. It’s also a rough style that gets rid of too much meticulous rendering, which I don’t really relish, but it allows for all sorts of precision. For these reasons I decided to keep The Last Supper in B&W.

Here are some details:

What kind of fool artist dares draw JESUS!?

Nolde’s 1909 version didn’t have an alien. Oh, or a snake.

The guy on the left’s eyes are sewn shut. The other guy reminds me of Frankenstein.

What the hell are those suction cups doing to her mind! If you didn’t notice her chest, look at the full-sized image again.

And what it looks like at actual pixels.

Texture!

I’d describe the look of this style as if you had pastels and charcoal that were magically ink rather than powder. But then I have ways of making it look more like plaster or encaustic.

I’m not going to interpret it for you because even I don’t know what some of it is. For example, if I see something, such as a rudimentary snake form, I can decide whether or not to run with it, and I might decide to develop it BECAUSE I don’t know what it means exactly rather than because I do. This allows me to express something visually which I may not be able to put in words or even fully understand with my rational mind.

An interpretation is just so much verbiage anyway. The whole point of visual art is that it doesn’t need to be filtered through spoken/written language (linguistic structures), and doesn’t unfold in the time it takes to read the description. It’s another form of communication entirely.


I want to say more about doing something that’s completely out of tune with the art world. I think there are those artists that are really integrated with the institution, either educational or museum/gallery or both, and I’m not at all. I’m an outlier that makes art primarily for myself, and my own sense of its intrinsic interest, beauty, and worth is the only standard I apply.

Rather than concern myself with whatever anyone else might like or want, I’ve always followed my internal compass. So, for example, art school was really hard for me because I wouldn’t put something up for a critique unless I myself liked it. My philosophy was: if I don’t like it, why should I expect anyone else to? OK, it just occured to me right now that the opposite is also true: just because I like something doesn’t mean I should expect anyone else to. So then it just gets to whose judgement I trust, and it’s my own.

I’ve been through the ringer of getting an MFA, and a goodly portion of that was conceptual art and political art. That had nothing to do with what I was really interested in, though it has its own interest.

I wasn’t really allowed to make paintings, certainly not Expressionist sorts of ones with a liberal dose of retro sci-fi, and I was ideally supposed to make political art “deconstructing [my] white male privilege”. None of that had anything to do with why I started making art as a young kid, and had continued to do so up until that point. In fact I considered my grad school a hiatus from making art, because I couldn’t possibly do what I wanted to do.

And so now I got back to my roots, the thread that was there all along, and I do what I uniquely want to do, and if it’s idiosyncratic and has no place in contemporary art, all the better. I want it to be a unique expression of myself, not to make art for this or that shared agenda, or in whatever style and with whatever material and subject matter is in fashion. That would make me an unofficial employee of the art market, or this or that institution. I don’t consider art a skill that one rents to someone else in order to execute their vision. And so why should my vision coincide with whatever is popular, or rather being promulgated (right now seemingly by the outrageously wealthy or the rabidly political)?

So, if my art seems to have fuck all to do with the contemporary art scene, that’s because it has everything to do with me.

Be back soon with another baboon:

~ Eric


Funding. Through Patreon, you can give $1 (or more) per month to help keep me going (y’know, so I don’t have to put art back on the back-burner while I slog away at a full-time job). Ah, if only I could amass a few hundred dollars per month this way, I could focus entirely on my art. See how it works here.

Or go directly to my account.

Patreon-account


Or you can make a small, one time donation to help me keep on making art and blogging (and restore my faith in humanity simultaneously).

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