"Nipped In The Bud"
© J. Licsko 09
oil on canvas
The painting shown here was painted as my response to a very disturbing subject. The painting itself looks mild mannered enough and it is unlikely that anyone would guess it's true inspiration without accompanying words. It's raison d'etre is that I saw something that disturbed me greatly, and have been bothered by it for a long time.
It is said that the painting Guernica was Picasso's response to the atrocities of war. In my youth, I said many times with mocking irreverence that Guernica did nothing to stop wars. I questioned whether art in general had any real influence that mattered. In truth, I must confess that I have never seen Guernica in person, and I have been told I should reserve my judgement until then. Good advice for any subject, but I feel now that I have come to understand Picasso's Guernica with the struggle over my painting "Nipped in the Bud".
For those familiar with my style, you may have noticed that I like to paint pretty subjects. They frequently have a suggestion of something deeper, occasionally even sinister, but always it is my desire to add beauty to the world, and not add to the pain. There is enough already.
With "Nipped In The Bud" I felt challenged to use the pain that I felt, and still feel for the subject, but doing so while remaining true to my own style. It took many months before my muse dropped it on me. It felt like that.
I searched for a venue that might be looking for the subject matter. I searched the competitions lists, fundraisers that might benefit the victims or subjects of the paintings. Nothing showed itself. In the end, I painted it for myself, and here is where the reference to Guernica comes. In no way, am I comparing myself to Picasso, but I now understand when an artist is tortured by something, painting it is the best way to calm the beast. A small peace comes from the expression of it. I never had any illusions that my painting will change the ugly practice that it speaks of, but I have been able to put the thoughts of it into perspective. I can live with them, and if perchance there is the possibility that even one person was influenced by it and stopped their cruel intentions...well, one can dream.
The finished painting hung in my studio for several months before I heard of a planned exhibition by the South Bay Area and Peninsula Woman's Caucus for the Arts. They published a call for entries. The subject was "Control". It was to be juried by the Guerrilla Girls West. Most of you know that the Guerrilla Girls, whether East or West, have been bringing attention to the fact that women artists are underrepresented in the art world, past and present, in historical accountings, museums, and galleries. I am a fan of their work.
"Control" the exhibition, is a display of 79 women artists, all making a visual statement about the countless variations of control. There were no restrictions, we were invited to be even politically incorrect, control could be seen as positive or negative.
"Nipped In The Bud" , my entry, is my reaction to the 2002 film of Israeli director Doron Eran, created from a book written by Dorit Zilberman. The film "God's Sandbox" while having mixed reviews of it's directorial quality, stabbed me in the heart. I have wanted to find a way to express with my art my grief and outrage over the cruel and barbaric practice, female genital mutilation, more politely called female circumcision. According to the World Health Organization this practice has affected between 100- 140 million women and girls worldwide. Though illegal, this is even going on in Europe and North America. This protest is not against men specifically, this practice is thriving because of the heavy influence of grandmothers.
The image of a rose whose bud has been cut off before it's bloom, it is a metaphor not limited to female genital mutilation, but to all forms of oppression, including the seemingly innocuous verbal abuse. Someone who suffers the negative affects of control will never fully blossom to their full potential, never really know their full self.
I spoke in my post of June 3/09 Finding the Right Titles For Paintings about the significance of titles. This title "Nipped In The Bud" still sounds flippant to my ears, and not respectful of the subject. Nothing else appropriate came to mind. I stopped searching when I found that the phrase first appeared in a comedy by Beaumont and Fletcher in 1607. "Yet I can frowne and nip a passion Euen in the bud". The play is called Woman Hater.
Somarts Cultural Center,
934 Brannan St.,
I invite you to attend the opening of this very special exhibition August 6th, 2009, 6 - 8 p m, and watch the interview of curator Karen Gutfreund on Talk TV www.somarts.org.