There are three days left on the auction for “Here Lies the Last Sip of the Bourgeoisie Malaise Consommé” AKA “Mister Chief” done by Frank O’Connor. Pictured below, proceeds from this pastel on canvas piece will benefit the Brian Morden Foundation, an organization working toward a cure for Ewing’s Sarcoma. The artist himself has taken a few moments out of his day to share his thoughts on this poignant, touching, piece.
View the auction here.
Q: You chose pastels on canvas, why?
I think that the frangible, crumbling nature of soft pastels perfectly reinforces the reflection of capitalism's decay under the onslaught of the corrosive commercialization. As the chalks fracture and turn to dust on the canvas, so too does the very act of rendering the image. The artist tumbles into the piece, just as the piece surges up into the artist. The sheer dirt of it is ironically cleansing.
Q: There’s a void swirling the Chief here, it’s as if he’s fought through some challenge in order to grace viewers with his presence? A metaphor for the artistic condition?
It's a literalism of the abyss looking into you. Here the abyss isn't mystery or darkness. It is dead eyes, rictus grin and all the decay of the real abyss - death and its penetrating gaze. It's a gaze any true artist must become familiar with if he is to become familiar with himself. Zen buddhists grasped this notion - a Samurai must accept death before he fights. In a real sense, he's already dead when he rides into battle. Like a samurai, I've accepted those cold arms and I ride into a new piece like a war, clutching a soft pastel in place of a sword.
Q: You chose a broad color palette for your work. Explain some of these choices.
The piece is black. The colors are illusion. Black is the absorption of every color in the spectrum - it steals light from the universe. Mister Chief steals color and worth from the universe. He is the black of talent.
Q: The Mister Chief has some asymmetrical qualities, clearly this is a statement. What are you trying to present, here.
In a sense it's a surfeit of balance. When your ability, your art reaches a perfect internal symmetry, something else has to give. As my abilities as an artist reached their zenith, I started to sacrifice balance from other areas of my being. Friendships, manners, hygiene. Sacrifice all of those things in pursuit of your art and you will find loneliness is the perfect palette.