A few months back, I was asked to be part of a really fun group show called Hunters and Collectors: Shrunken Heads and other Oddities. Unfortunately, due to some contractual issues I had on my part, I had to decline. But before this all came about, I had already envisioned a painting and started it. I'm not the kind of person who leaves things unfinished, so I proceeded to finish the painting and I'm really glad I did.
The piece started out as a sketch on a slab of wood. There is no secret here. I don't use anything fancy. In fact, I usually use wood that was once a prop from one of my film projects. I don't like to waste and I'm anally resourceful like that.
By the way, did you know that a person's anal retentive personalities are developed during the anal stage of infancy (which is toilet training). Supposedly, children develop this trait (or the opposite which is anal expulsive) depending on how the parents act and discipline during the toilet training period.
I went in and did my usual wash of color, blocking in shapes and building up from there. I wanted to focus on a subconscious narrative in this painting. In researching the shrunken head more thoroughly, I discovered a bit of the ritual behind shrunken heads that interested me. The Shuar people of the Amazon rain forest would make shrunken heads from victims in their battles to keep the victim's evil spirit (Muisak) at bay. The skull's would be removed and tossed into the river as an offering to the god Pani. Which is really just a big stupid snake we know as the anaconda.
I wanted to add influences from other cultures and regions to give the piece a universal islander feel. I added some influence from pop and car kulture by incorporating some pinstriping into the face painting influences from the Shuar and Papua New Guinea tribes. Some Polynesian influence is reflected with the addition of the plumeria flower. In Hawaiian culture, the plumeria represents life and beauty. A theme that has always been in my art is contrasts and duality between life and death/beauty and ugly.
At first, I wanted to go with white plumeria, but overall, they became a distraction to the narrative of the story. They should accent the painting, not become the painting. So I experimented with other colors until I came up with a nice purple that worked well with the composition. I also added beads and shells that pull the painting together.
There you have it..."Casting Out Evil"