Friday, February 1, 2008

The Evolution of Bacchus Giraffe

I have a reoccurring character in some of my paintings, he is Bacchus, the Roman God of wine and intoxication, but in the evolved form of a giraffe.

The first painting he appeared in was a diptych titled Bacchus Giraffe…Drunken God of Mythology in 1999. In this painting a woman is shown getting herself drunk, to escape her worries. She is a devoted follower of Bacchus. In time her head detaches from this dimension and floats into the welcoming arms of Bacchus the Giraffe. He licks her head as if it were a fruit, his saliva acting as an elixir, releasing her from the pain she is enduring, easing her from worry. When I first drew this painting on canvas Bacchus was an ulgy, monster like bearded man. I painted over the man with a giraffe. At first I didn't like this painting very much, but now its one of my favorites.

The next piece of artwork Bacchus Giraffe appears in is a bit more comical, not as dark as its predecessor. Its titled Dinner with Bacchus Giraffe, and it shows Bacchus the Giraffe God as an almost unwelcome guest. The woman at the dinner table wrestles with the option of drinking to escape her worries. This woman has more hope and courage, she thinks of facing her problems with a clear mind, not giving into intoxication as a means of escape. But the thought of giving up and drinking is tempting to her and she is seen gazing at Bacchus Giraffe's amusing advances with a subtle curiosity. I created this painting in one day.

The last of my paintings (so far) that shows a giraffe, is not necessarily Bacchus. This giraffe is not trying to intoxicate people into escaping their worries but acting as a protector and teacher. In Pomegranate Seeds, completed in 2005, the giraffe appears to a man in his dreams and explains the magnificence of life creating itself over and over using a pomegranate as an example. He cuddles the sleeping man, almost sexually, explaining how each tiny pomegranate seed has the potential within to grow into a massive tree that will again produce fruits with tiny seeds that can grow again into massive trees into infinity.

The idea for Pomegranate Seeds appeared to me in a dream. I used the Bacchus like giraffe character not for his associations to the Roman God but simply as a type of guardian angel giraffe. In this painting the giraffe character is stripped of any associations with wine or escape. The giraffe in this painting is the antitheses of escape; he represents birth and rebirth, a message from Providence, the passing on of knowledge. The dream I had continues, the man wakes up after being told about the momentum of life reproducing itself infinitely and the giraffe is gone. He walks along a savanna and finds a sleeping giraffe, and he cuddles the giraffe, whispering into his dreams the secrets of life reproducing itself using a pomegranate as an example. That same giraffe wakes up then finds the man sleeping and this goes on forever.

I had the dream and created the painting in October 2005, the next month my wife found out she was pregnant with our beautiful daughter Zoƫ.

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