Friday, September 13, 2013

Oh, Calcutta! (180)

"Oh, Calcutta! (180)", oil on canvas, 24x24 in. For sale on Etsy.
It's a football player with a giant apricot floating over his butt, standing in a field of cilantro. Let me explain how this happened. It isn't surrealism, this isn't dream imagery. It's more of a puzzle. Like many of my paintings, it started with word association. My goal was to represent the color Calcutta Curry (a shade of yellow that is color #180 in Naomi Kuno's Colorscape book). So, as I often do, I took an oblique approach to the problem.

Right now, I like for my paintings to have three layers: a real object sitting in front of me, a drawing of a detail from a photo, and a drawing of a still from a video in the background. The cilantro in the foreground is based on a real plant that I bought at Meijer. Why cilantro? Cilantro was the first ingredient of a Bengali curry that I never actually got around to making. (Bengali because Calcutta, or Kolkata, is in the Indian state of West Bengal. Is some of the rest of the painting starting to make sense? I'll get to that...) 

The next layer is the floating apricot. I deliberately selected the most butt-shaped fruit I could find. I would have preferred a peach, but the apricot had a better shape. Why a butt? The title "Oh, Calcutta!" comes from a slightly dirty French pun, which became a dirty painting, which inspired a nude Broadway musical in the 1970s. I found it when I searched for a "soundtrack" for this painting, which ended up being a Pandora station built around the track "Oh, Calcutta!" by the funk band The Meters. There's a lot of Hammond organ on there...

Finally, the football player. He plays for the Cincinnati Bengals. I made Vine videos out of found footage of the Bengals, then selected a still with one of the players sticking his butt out just so. 
Oh, Calcutta!

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