I explored this idea in my head for quite a while before it all came together in this painting. I was wrestling with the notion of how our “Self” can be so destructive. This concept included “self” as individuals and also as the collective group called “us”. After completing the painting, I read my first book by Eckhart Tolle called “A New Earth” in which he actually helped me understand my own concept. In his book he refers to humankind’s dysfunctional egoic self and the collective ego of our societies and human groups as the foundation for human suffering. It was fascinating to read how Eckhart Tolle has put into words what I tried to express with my painting.
I also found a passage in the book “Radical Honesty” by Brad Blanton PhD. who wrote:
“The passing on of learning from one generation to the next is not a bad design, and as an evolutionary development, it seems to have triumphed. The idea-generating, self-perpetuating machine that has evolved seems to have worked. Human beings have taken over the world. The ability to act based on accumulated information, and to pass great quantities of new information on, is the primary survival characteristic of the strongest animal on earth.
But, paradoxically, our survival mechanism has proved to be ultimately suicidal. It has allowed us to mass produce the consumables that provide us with the comfortable lifestyles that eventually kill us, to develop a technology for mass destruction of humans and the environment, and to rationalize the inexorable destruction of millions of lives relegated to fates of poverty, disease and violence.”
In this painting, the figure holds his outward image to the world, represented by a smiling mask. Behind the mask he is isolated, virtually unconscious, with his eyes, ears and mouth sewn shut. The top of his head is the fireball of a nuclear explosion. The A-Bomb being one of the most heinous inventions ever conceived. Simply put, our intelligence, when we are unconscious, can be devastatingly destructive. A detail, original sketch (from my imagination) and picture of the painting in its frame is included below.
Oil on Linen, 24" x 30"