Imagine, 2004 Oil on Linen 16 × 16 inches
Imagine, 2004
Oil on Linen 16 × 16 inches

This is one of the few paintings that snuck into this show from an earlier body of work, Hamlet 1999. In that series, John Lennon represented the Ghost of Hamlet, his father back from the dead seeking revenge for his death from Hamlet’s uncle, and also to act as a sort of "Obi Wan Kenobi" to help set his guiding principals of life. Of course this is from the cover of Lennon’s fantastic Imagine album, from a Polaroid taken by Andy Warhol, where the effect of taking his image through the window with the clouds has already the feeling of a mournful transcendence.

I was having many dreams of the people falling from the Towers of the World Trade Center after witnessing the horrific events of 9-11. Being a huge John Lennon fan, I would call out them in my sleep "All You Need is Love!" and finally, in homage to them and to remember the tragedy and my feelings about it, created the painting now owned by the Whitney Museum to the left of this image. I’m hoping by the placement here that it depicts a sensation of what I was feeling in those dreams, as if the smoke of the 9-11 painting becomes a cloud in this work, as Lennon too arises from the earlier painting below him, as a young man in Rubber Soul (and adjacent to the appropriation of Bobby Kennedy by Roy Lichtenstein).

I feel that if you could have the populist notions of Warhol, making work of people and images that relate to the outer world, but coupled with the feelings, and painterly emotion of a Rembrandt, perhaps you could have something new. Certainly this is what I’m thinking of here, when I created this image while playing his music, the soul of Lennon coming alive through his music, being felt by my brush.