My American Dream: Mystery Train
Resurrection (The Trumps Meet The Pope), 2017 oil on linen 29 × 22 in. | 73.7 × 55.9 cm
Resurrection (The Trumps Meet The Pope), 2017
oil on linen 29 × 22 in. | 73.7 × 55.9 cm

I love Goya, and his Charles IV of Spain and His Family is one of my favorite masterpieces. Goya earned his “old master” stripes by painting people and things as he really saw them, exceeding his commissions by bringing out the truth in people, while at the same time making them look good. Modeled after Velázquez’s Las Meninas (which is perhaps less subversive, as that painter really liked his king?) Goya places himself in his picture, which is really about, to our eyes, looking at the hubris and pomposity of a misbegotten royal family, painting them as he really sees them, and asking his audience to “judge for yourself”. The image of the Trumps and the Pope is a well-known “MIME” from the time of last year of this ironic visit, of the some of the baddest people on earth meeting one of the best, but in most of those cartoon-ized images (where they are made to look like the Addams family and worse) the satire is obvious, and (important to me), the Renaissance painting by Pietro Perugino’s 1499 painting Christ on the Sarcophagus is usually cropped out—for me the ultimate allegorical talisman of what hopefully our current situation won’t develop horribly into—a biblical apocalypse. It would be so easy to satirize these figures, I wanted to play it straight—paint from the photo with a tight grid (that I leave here to show also the poetic unraveling) thinking my thoughts while overhearing the news, to see what would be brought forth not just from my consciousness, but also my unconscious mind as it transmuted the image. The result I hope speaks some truth. Surrealistically, it appeared to me after painting the image that the Christ is like a puppeteer, controlling the marionette-like strings (which were the folds of the old oil painting behind them) to his Trump puppet. It was a revelation to me that after painting it, thinking if there is a god, perhaps they are presenting Trump as a vehicle to gather all people of all persuasions and types—cross party politics, ethnicities and religions—to triumph the power of good to conquer evil, hopefully the positive push-back of our egregious times that will save all of us and our world from destruction.