This is from my BFA senior project. In all it consisted of 4 six foot panels of monks & blossoms. Studying zen painting that year, I tried to capture that attack style to the panel, spontaneous looking and without holding back. For the skin, I returned to the Flemish style I am used to painting in. This piece, “Tulpa”, is the Tibetan name for a metaphysical being. Each monk was blossoming with a flower commonly associated with vegetables, squash, tomato, potato, and persimmon (which isn’t so vegetabley). Trying to investigate the aspects of masculinity that are not in the forefront: steadfastness, creation, discipline, fragility of ego, I wanted to bring these flowers that had masculinity, if possible! Release!

tulpcloseI think one of the spurning ideas in this project was Leonard Cohen’s poem “I heard of a man…” Though I think I just wrote one line down and ran with it. The line, silence blossoms like tumors on our lips. Here’s the whole poem:

I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am dumb beside your body
while silence blossoms like tumors on our lips.
it is because I hear a man climb stairs and clear his throat outside the door.

-Leonard Cohen, from “Let Us Compare Mythologies”

In junction with the 4 large paintings, I made a short film/animation called, “The Monk and the Outlaw” where I played two sides of a man, and shaved my head for the second role!