COVID-19 has been quite the challenge for most of us. The idea of sacrificing the illusion of freedom in order to secure survival has been difficult for many in the Western hemisphere to accept for more than a few months at a time. Our forefathers have accepted such in times of war, but we have difficulties accepting that we are “at war” with The Virus — and that it is a result of “our own doing/undoing”. Here, I have chronicled some of my own perceptions, feelings and experiences during the 2020 COVID-19 challenge:
“Corona: In the Eye of the Storm (We Can’t Breathe)”, oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm.
Painting: Oil on Canvas. This caricature is a humorous piece, made as a reaction to artists’ and writers’ predators and “home-boys” — CRITICS, both professional, and those self-made experts who always seem to “know best” regarding what good art and literature are, and how they should be made (known signature styles by famous dead artists and writers, repeated and copied — over and over again). “My ‘style’? I react vehemently to being conveniently labelled as ‘this, or that’; just as I rebel against the so-called ‘rules of painting’, or ‘rules of writing’ … or ‘political correctness’ etc. Actually, it is the audacity of these concepts that annoys me. The need for others to classify me, my art, my writing … or anything, is surely an indication of their own egotism, insecurities, limitations and weaknesses. The closest relevant generic style classifications might be perhaps ‘abstract’, ‘colour field’, ‘geometric’, ‘abstract expressionist’, ‘minimalist’ etc. But I always find my own ‘mix’ … with limitless variations. My art and writing are meant to be different and new; and pleasing, challenging and annoying — at the same time. But in the end it is all about The Mask.” — Adam Donaldson Powell
«Vanishing Act», 46 x 55 cm., oil on canvas, 2020.
Painting: Oil on Canvas. « Shadow » – 影, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, is a black-grey-white over-sized portrait-study aiming at depicting deep thinking. The semi-realistic style aims for simplicity and shadow play, with a minimum of detail and light. The focal point of the exaggerated eye serves as a portal into the Inner Self. The darkness provides a sense of intimacy, privacy, secrecy and protection. There is solace in the shadow.
“La enfermedad necesita soledad …
y demasiada soledad genera enfermedad.”
— Adam Donaldson Powell
Painting: “Don’t Ask!”, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm., 2020.
Painting: Oil on Canvas. “X, Y and Z Generations … in Troubled Times”, is a series of three self-portraits, challenging the ways I see myself vs. the ways I wish others to see/experience me. Today’s challenges are many, and the successive generations barely have time for needed self-reflection in the face of the daily, fast-changing technological, climate and other challenges. In this painting I invite the viewer to face himself/herself in this world where faces and Art are often just another image. I personally experience this painting as scary and uncomfortable. What I mean by saying that the painting is “scary” is that it confirms the dilemma that I face in today’s crazy World — an “unfinished symphony” that is essentially never to be totally understood. There were never to be any figures totally painted because the pictures represent people/humanity/me in development and unraveling. The pic of me all dressed up in a fur coat is the “show guy” presenting himself to The World … (x-generation). The y-generation me with the green face is the creative and thinking me — absorbed in my own thoughts and ideas, but battling against those imposed upon me by living in The World. And the z-generation is me blocking out and hiding from The World, the mental bombardments of images, coined phrases, propaganda, advertisements, and the glaring and oppressive heatwaves and sunlight etc. That image is in the largest state of disintegration, the skin coloring depicting a body that is almost lifeless and the head partially covered by a veil of mourning. Of course, all of the images are (as is the Internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, mainstream media and alternative media) manipulations — leaving out ears (i.e. really hearing and listening) and other details in order “to guide” the viewer into focusing upon the sunglasses, clothing and accessories (headlines) instead of seeing the person (content) inside … and we are consequently in a continuous struggle for self-marketing and esteem vs. incompletion and dissatisfaction with systems of ethics and values that both constrain and embrace us. The painting is “The Scream” that was never really expressed outwardly. And the minimalistic pastel-colored background is the general environment of denial — “everything is normal” — that acts as a sedative, more than inspiration. NB. See Urban Dictionary for definitions of Generations X, Y and Z.
Painting: “The Scream” / “Isbad”, 60 x 80 cm., oil on canvas, 2020.
“Coffin Portrait / Lockdown — Summer fun”, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm., 2020, the second title is perhaps self-explanatory. But it doubles as a Coffin Portrait (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_portrait). This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.
“Masquerade: COVID-19”, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020, is self-explanatory at first glance. However, here I have left certain features slightly unfinished: the naked eyes, the disintegrating painted frame etc.; this to suggest vulnerability and a sense of incompletion. COVID-19 presents the unanswerable questions of how effective we really are at masking fear of the unknown, and which “me” peers out from behind the superficial protective covering. This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.
Roll of the dice: The dilemma of losing our sense of touch, 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. COVID-19 can affect our senses, notably the sense of taste and the sense of smell. But avoiding the virus also entails restrictions upon another important sense: that of touch. Scientific study indicates that affectionate touches can affect the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, thus reducing the release of stress hormones while bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves that are linked with relaxation. This self-portrait (my sixteenth) is a commentary on the dilemma of avoiding touch, an activity which we sorely need in order to boost our life quality, our sense of well-being and our ability to maintain a strong immune system. We take chances with a mental roll of the dice: “Does this person have COVID-19, or not? I need to give and receive handshakes and hugs. But do I dare do so … or not?!!”
”COVID-19 — fini les bises à la pelle !”, oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm., 2020, is a self-portrait of myself hesitating to kiss my own death skull, and is surrounded by a ring of blue roses. The blue roses symbolize the unattainable; here, an unfulfilled love-moment that is even too complicated to be described in words because our natural habit of performing the delicious bises à la pelle is abruptly stopped by the cold mental forewarning that “some doors should never be opened”. There is nothing to say, save perhaps “Oh, I almost forgot.” This is, indeed, a challenging conceptual and technical study and essay. The image of a person kissing a death skull is an age-old meme (if not a cliché). Here the twist is to play on the concept of The Picture of Dorian Gray, whereby the death skull is the mirrored image of my true Self — i.e. that part of me that always remains constant, regardless of the « accoutrements » of fashion, disposition, or aging. In the Age of COVID-19 a simple kiss on the cheek can become the shovel that digs our own grave… Indeed we must all face our own Death, with eyes open or shut. And yet Death finds meaning only against the background of Life, though measured in mere years or breaths. Just as Light has no significance without shadow or Darkness, we cannot live Life fully being afraid of Death. “On ne peut pas vivre en ayant peur de mourir … “
“La mort rappelle une vie passée”, 60 x 80 cm., huile sur toile, 2020. Voici un nouvel autoportrait, qui est surprenant, puissant et bizarre. Il présente la mort — symbolisée par un crâne. Ètonnamment, le crâne ouvre sa fermeture éclair pour révéler sa dernière incarnation … c’est “moi”, bien sûr.
«Secundo fluctus» (Second Wave), 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. The theme of this self-portrait is the impossible dream that is never finally achieved — no matter how much success we or others may think we have achieved, the dissatisfaction is always there. That has been the plight of most artists throughout human history; and it is no less today — for artists, and for non-artists. The tremendous Saturn-influence enveloping us at this time insists upon the renewal of our dreams, our motives, our ways of seeing, acting, living … imposing a heavy reality check upon us all. It is not all negative from an overall perspective, but it takes a higher degree of ingenuity, creativity, and persistence in order to create the much-needed and long-overdue New Consciousness. This dark expressionist self-portrait entitled “Second Wave”, provides a subjective inside-looking-out acknowledgment of the present experience. The intention is to document the thick muddy gelé of fear + careful hopefulness that we are all enduring in this Winter of darkness. The observant viewer will note that the face is itself a mask, as is the masking Darkness.
“Toxique / Toxic”, 40×40 cm., oil on canvas, is an abstract painting which uses colourfield and geometric styles to induce feelings of the “disgusting” which is beautiful. Here “the disgusting” is created by color combinations and the dizziness of the geometric images seemingly twirling about in atmospheric bile. The painting gives a sense of elegance in its overall balance and technical precision, while at the same time requiring quiet acceptance of discomfort.
“The many faces of depression”, oil on canvas, 40 x 40 cm.
A Wrist-cutter’s Glow, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm., Adam Donaldson Powell.
Winds of Hell, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas.
«Winds of Hell», 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas. “Les vents de l’Enfer”, 65 x 90 cm., Huile sur toile; basé sur les six faces par lesquelles nous percevons la mort — La mort en tant qu’ennemi, La mort en tant qu’étranger, La mort en tant qu’ami, La mort en tant que mère, La mort en tant que voleur et La mort en tant qu’amant. 💀💀💀💀💀💀 Writing about Death is not foreign to me, but I have only approached the theme once before in my paintings. Thus, I have made a new painting about Death (which for we who survive others becomes a personal Hell for a time). And regardless of how we see Death, the Hell of loss is still there gnawing away at us … underneath the masks we put on to shield ourselves and others in our grief. 💀💀💀💀💀💀
Here is my first painting about Death:
Soul evacuation, oil on canvas, 100x150x8 cm.
Soul evacuation, oil on canvas, 100x150x8 cm.
THE HOPE (The Vaccine).
This is the final painting in my COVID-19 painting series chronicle. While all «endings» of pandemics are qualified — due to the ever-present possibility of re-occurrence or new viruses/new mutations, the survival and future of Humanity is dependent upon science, technology, perserverance … and, of course, abstractions such as Hope. Hope is a universal conceptual archetype — not necessarily directly connected to any known entity or individual … and it is therefore represented here as a visual abstraction in the intellectual and sense-oriented «feel good» category — expansive, yet ordered; spiritual, yet not confined to religion; and inspirational, yet mysterious.
Hope, oil on canvas/mixed media, 50×50 cm.