A Man

of  Zen


Acrylic on vinyl

22 in. x 28 in

Price: U$ 500.00




Painting: the seat of virtue

         The painting shows a middle-aged woman at the summit of her sexual vitality facing Time. She has a choice to make: Does the Sun on the horizon mark the end of her youthful days? Or is it the empowering dawn of renewed sexual freedom and discoveries?

          This painting is almost puerile. However, looking puerile does not detract because it makes the painting look more natural and spontaneous. The word puerile reminds me of Cupid, the libidinous god of love depicted as a child. He walked around playfully and joyfully striking subjects with his arrows regardless of peoples’ rational choices. I hope this painting and its flaws strike people as Cupid did. Regardless, people will see this painting in different ways as diverse people experience love and libido, or an erotic dream, in diverse ways.

          The painting portrays a woman as the Tree of Golden Apples, the mythical tree from the Garden of the Hesperides. At the foot of the tree, there is a violet that is also a lily, a reference to the biblical passage (Matthew 6:28) that praises the beauty of such flowers. The violet is situated on a hill that could be the site of Jesus's sermon on the Mount, where he taught about the kingdom of God. The woman in the painting is aged and sorrowful, but she has an inner fire still burning. Her "violet" is a chalice filled with the wine of life, symbolizing her vibrant sexuality and wild spirit. She is a violet among lilies, a sensual woman who seeks to reclaim the lost pleasures of her youth.
This painting was inspired by a woman who made a lasting and positive impact on me. She had many reasons to be dissatisfied with herself. Luckily, I encountered her in a situation that did not allow me to be limited by my prejudices regarding how a woman should look like. I was able to enjoy her intimate generosity and her passionate radiance.

          Her name was Violet. She was blond and her body hair was golden. She had enormous breasts and her soul shone like the sun of a world in which women do not need the approval of any man to feel beautiful and be free. That is why she always comes to my mind in the shape of the Tree of Golden Apples in the Garden of the Hesperides. The gold color is an expression of her blond hair and her value as a free-minded woman and an amazing sexual partner.

          In most versions of the myth, the Hesperides are said to be a triad. They are the goddesses of the sunset, daughters of Hesperus (The Evening star). This is the portrait of Violet, a luminous garden in the sunset of life carrying her libido and her free mind as the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides carried golden apples. She celebrates her wisdom as it becomes more mature and richer with aging.

          Jesus says in the biblical verse (King James version):

         “Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these… seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”.

          Different people have different gods. I suspect that one of Violet’s gods was the Sun because her skin was tanned, and she was soaked with enlightenment. And, well above the astronomical sun, her god was her inner sun. Her inner sun exudes golden light through her mind and her sexual expression making her libido exude as golden apples. Her heart is the Elysian fields in which Violet herself finds nurturance and blooms and grows and glows as the simplest of flowers but one of the most beautiful too.

          The citation above reminds me of the one below:

         Song of Solomon 2:1-2 - “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.”

          It sounds in my mind almost as if it was written for this woman called Violet, even though it was written thousands of years ago.

          “I am a rose of Sharon…” – such a bodacious, strongly colored flower.

        “…a lily of the valleys.” – She knows the lower grounds, she knows the low moods, she knows about expectations. Paradoxically, many times, it is easier for a person to be happy when the person carries low expectations.

        “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the young women.” – Violet is an older woman. She is looked down upon (a lily of the valleys) and treated with meanness by others just because she is older even though she is a darling.

          Said the above, we see in the painting that Violet wears a silver mask. Through the silver mask, she contemplates an hourglass and the Sun on the horizon. Both represent the passage of time. Her attitude taught me that Time is inescapable, what matters is what we make of Time.

          At first, the picture of the hourglass came to my mind as a reference to one of my previous paintings: “My cup runneth over…”. In that painting the cup is not just an hourglass, it is also the whole grail. In the painting above the whole grail appears as the hourglass of life and what we choose to drink from it. Coincidently, when I researched the Garden of Hesperides, I found out that in some versions of the myth, the Hesperides are said to be daughters of Atlas. Atlas holds the heavens and Earth from crashing against each other. Coming across that part of the myth, I immediately thought that the hourglass in the painting was a representation of Heaven and Earth encountering each other, not crashing, as immanence and transcendence, eternity and temporality, freedom and constrictions, a loving pairing. This loving pairing is depicted as two breasts rubbing against each other in a libidinous rendezvous, or an act of love between Eve and Lilith in the absence of Adam.

          That is the hourglass, the holy grail, a communion chalice. On the horizon, the sun during sunset (as the Hesperides are the sunset goddesses) descends over it as a communion wafer, the bread of life, the body and blood of God. But in this case, it is the body and blood of Violet. She has a decision to make. Is it the sunset of her golden days or the dawn of a new vision? I think I know what answer Violet has chosen.

p.s. The whole background is pink because this is the inner garden of Violet. It happens inside her heart and womb.

(December.13.2022) – I have been reading a book [Hoss, Robert J. Dream Language: Self-Understanding through Imagery and Color] about the meaning of colors in dreams. According to the author, when a color results from the mixing of another color with white, “white associates a ‘newness, often of a fantasy nature, or a renewal or transformation of the emotion represented by the color with which it combines… mixes, making it less intense and more pleasant and friendly.” So, it makes me believe that using so much pink in my paintings is a way of processing my masculinity seeing that in general manner man’s sexuality and aggressivity tend to be represented as red.

          The white lines are not painted, they are scratches and scars. They are epistemological slices infringed on Violet’s way of being by the looks and judgment of others.

Update: April.23.2020 – At first, I named this painting “The Garden of Hesperides”. However, later, I changed it to “The Seat of Virtue.” The latter title is the English translation of an Asian woman's name with whom I fell in deepest love. She was 46 at the time. She was entering her pre-menopause years. I started painting only because I was in love with this woman. She did not love me even though we had a very strong friendship at the time. I wanted to impress her. That is why I started painting again after so many decades. But soon enough I found out that she was in love with another man.

          I continued painting because it was the only way that was left for me to express my passion (and desperation) and live out my love for her. Painting became a volcano. In a matter of a few days, I made 10 paintings to celebrate (or digest my love) for her. However, above everything, this painting is about a maturing woman and her choice to press forward, to live the best years of her sexuality. At the same time, it is the picture of a real dilemma lived by every middle-aged woman everywhere. It is, hopefully, the archetype of how to break a stereotype.