Humbly Magnificent Origin Stories

Hieros Gamos, by Douglas Pinson. 1982/83. Oil on Canvas.

I am the most humble person the world has ever seen. There has never been such a humble personage as I. Therefore, I take it as my self-created birthright to tell the following story.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, an artist lived and loved and was convinced that only the representational could be “art,” and that anything else was nonsense. This is not to say he necessarily loved blue velvet paintings of dogs playing poker, or Elvis in his later years, even though these American icons could be called “realistic.” There were lines he drew, and lines he would not draw, and they tended not to involve velvet. At least not yet.

So when he arrived at the gates of the Big City, or some facsimile there of, it mattered not that the artist was just a freshman, nor that the sum total of his art lessons to date came all too close to nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. And it mattered not that he was taught almost exclusively by the god Osmosis, a deity well known for his hit or miss organizational skills. What really mattered to this young, head-strong artist, all too certain in his convictions, was that he, at least inwardly, Titanically strove toward unreachable goals, like some Romantic hero out of Isaiah Berlin’s book on the subject he would read more than 40 years later.

In short, there was the way of the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Greeks, or there was no way at all, though Van Gogh always had special rights outside those rules. Vincent surpassed all boundaries even then. There was just no reason to try to fit him into the various boxes the artist had created for himself. To do so, of course, would be like expecting an avalanche to go back up the snow-blue mountain side.

But, as time passed, as montages roamed the streets, as he got to know his fellow art students, inside and outside the halls of University, the god Osmosis reappeared, and his eyes opened and the fog lifted and he was almost free. It also helped that he took Art History class after Art History class, which continuously reset the goal posts, semester after semester, year after year, until his own theories and artistic practices came close to meshing. Close. It wasn’t until metal sculpture class, however, that the artist was finally ready to paint abstractly. Heavy metal, among other elements, revolutionized his art.

The painting above was among the first, or second, or sixth tries, and I’ll get into the whys and wherefores of its conception in the next installment of humbly magnificent origin stories.

Until then, etc.


Humbly Magnificent Origin Stories
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