Legion (For We are Many)
Oil and graphite on Kitakata paper
21" x 15"
In Frank Stella’s Working Space, he presents the idea of the “God-like nature of creation in painting.” In a sense, paintings goal became to create life, and in Stella’s words, “create enough lifelike qualities to keep it alive.” Later, he gives the example of Pollock, whose work was filled with “life” without dependence on accurate representation of life.
Similarly to Pollock, I am intrigued with the dialogue formed around referencing historical imagery, and the modernization and adaptation of said imagery. For example, in Pollock’s The She-Wolf, 1943, he depicts the tale of Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome. But he depicts them in a modernist mode, flattening the pictorial space and abstracting their form so that the scene becomes something else entirely. With the shield paintings, I am searching for this type of balance between reference and formal interest.
Formally, this work references the Milton Shield, a decorative shield made in 1866 to commemorate Milton’s Paradise Lost. The title of this work, Legion (For We are Many) comes from a biblical quote about a man possessed by demons. In it, God asks the demon its name, he responds “My name is Legion, for we are many.” I chose this title for its connection to Milton’s work, as well as the multiplicity of the patterning in the piece.
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