Acrylic on canvas, 66 X 96 inches, 1999
Satyr’s Dance is one of three paintings produced as a type of disconnected triptych by my former students Leo Bratenas, Francisco Franco and myself as the lead artist working in my studio. While I worked directly on their compositions, this composition is completely my conception and by my hand and was completed in seven months. It marks the beginning of my mature style and the conquering of the problems of integrating color, light and space in a manner that allows for the complete process of creation directly on the canvas without preliminary drawings: the first three days saw the figures emerge one each day, followed within the next week by the transforming the water, the ascending fire and the illuminated orb.
To begin this project, and as a demonstration for my students, I questioned them as to the rules of art and asked what should never be done in designing a strong composition. They responded: do not divide the composition in half; do not place the focal point in the center; do not use black isolated, do not mix various styles; etc. I recorded these points then proceeded to compose directly on the canvas and demonstrated how the rules can be broken by doing exactly what they advised against. First though, I reminded them, you must know how to work within the rules. The composition addresses questions of transformation and the realization of potentials. We must metamorphose from the physical to the spiritual and back, through integrating our intellectual, expressive and instinctual natures. As it is the way of the satyr it is the way of the artist. My students often tell me that they see a self-portrait in this work. They may be on to something.