March 21, 2024

Little Big Man

Prompted by an old friend, a possibility of making small pieces for an upcoming exhibition.

"Mighty Small", is the working title. I immediately thought of Dustin Hoffman's Little Big Man.

Some pics...










Posted by Dennis at 4:56 PM | Comments (0)

wide, almost


wide, almost
18" x 16" x 9.5"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "wide, almost"
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discover a new realm


discover a new realm
13" x 16" x 12"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "discover a new realm"
Posted by Dennis at 4:49 PM | Comments (0)



18" x 13" x 11"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "saxophonist"
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between precision and caprice


between precision and caprice

Oil on Wood

Continue reading "between precision and caprice"
Posted by Dennis at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

readily to mind


readily to mind
18" x 16" x 9.5"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "readily to mind"
Posted by Dennis at 4:44 PM | Comments (0)

full throated


full throated
13"x 16" x 7"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "full throated"
Posted by Dennis at 4:41 PM | Comments (0)

a gyration of the wrist until exhausted


a gyration of the wrist until exhausted
20" x 13" x 9.5"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "a gyration of the wrist until exhausted"
Posted by Dennis at 4:37 PM | Comments (0)

sometimes with caprice


sometimes with caprice
18" x 16" x 11"
Oil on Wood

Continue reading "sometimes with caprice"
Posted by Dennis at 4:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2024



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February 22, 2024

Panel Discussion: Hantaï at Timothy Taylor Gallery



A few thoughts after the event:

First of all, it was delightful to have two heavyweights, one a historian of contemporary art and an esteemed New York painter, possessing his own unique pictorial language and a powerful oeuvre. The audience was full of smart talented artists.

Two topics were dominant in the room that night. Warnock dealt out the allover card and Reed, the color card. Via the allover, Warnock connected Hantaï to Pollock's drip painting* (via Neuman's zip painting, extending the lineage). She is known for her expertise in European painting but there's an interesting line item in her bio that goes like this: "...Director of the Clyfford Still Catalogue Raisonné Project at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado". So, she's steeped in the high water mark of New York Abstraction of the 50's and 60's.

Listening to Warnock's introduction, my impression was that issues of materiality and scale is the thrust of her concerns. Flipping through books on Hantaï (Warnock had just published one recently), black and white photographs of Hantaï in the studio are quite impressive. Evidently, Hantaï found studios in abandoned factories, the scale of canvas measure ten, twenty, thirty feet it seems, covering crumbling walls and floors. This was the post war era when populations were migrating from cities to suburbs, factories were retooling for peacetime, immense spaces were available to artists for the first time in history. This, coinciding with the emerging market booming consumer economy and the technological acceleration due to wartime innovation, you have the three significant drivers for post war abstract art.

As an artist who is heavily invested in letting materiality drive painting, the medium long since declared defunct and dead after the Pop/Minimalist/Conceptualist/Postmodernist carried forward Duchamp's Telegram (wink, de Duve, his new book that I'm currently reading), I was delighted to hear Warnock call for a new push for painting that focused on materiality. The thing is, such a project has to be cautious and mindful of what had happened in the long meantime.

Color was the other theme of the night. Reed talked about optical color, that color not in the world but in the retina or cerebral cortex. Or, maybe it's in the world but it's fugitive... Reed lamented that Pollock's use of Duco paint rendered a lovely lavender light that disappeared after the painting aged out. The words "optical color" resonated in the audience and subsequent discussion prompted me to reflect on California's Light and Space movement, James Turell and Robert Irwin specifically. Strange to hear New Yorkers lilt so many years after that era.

Yes, a very nice evening. Warnock, launching salvos like "...contingent effect... the finite vision of a human painting... the temporal eternal finitude..." and Reed, delicately savoring color, speaking of Tintoretto and Rubens.


NB: Regarding Pollock, I'm reading Carter Radcliff's book, a project commissioned by the Pollock/Krasner Foundation, apparently. You can read it here.

NG2: Coincidentally, I visited the Met's newly rennovated European Wing. It was delightful. Of the pics I snapped, Tintoretto caught my attention. Nice to hear Reed drop his name.

Posted by Dennis at 3:31 PM | Comments (0)

Lamb of G-d

...have mercy on us.

Posted by Dennis at 3:25 PM | Comments (0)

Been Busy


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Been Busy


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Panel Discussion: Alix Le Melédér at Zürcher Gallery




Alix Le Méléder, Paintings 1998-2011, January 16- February 28, 2024, at Zürcher Gallery, New York

Snips from the press release:
In Alix le Méléder' s work, for every action there appears a requisite result of restraint or a negation. ... Alix stopped painting in July 2011. She had completed her work. The ethical and philosophical nature of her decision to stop painting comes from her work's internal logic. Alix could typically go on working but it would be meaningless. She felt she had nothing else to say, so echoing Herman Melville's Bartleby, she says "I'd prefer not to". Alix Le Méléder comments :
I realized one day that there was a desire for expression in my paintings and I wanted to free myself from it. I had to erase myself and paint again with color. I felt the need to blow out the space even more, that's why I came to the square format. And then to escape a kind of horizontal face to face with the canvas, I decided to rotate it."

This is my first exposure to le Méléder's painting, it was fortunate to be able to attend the panel discussion on such an occasion. Much of the press release is in the artist's own voice, it was a challenge to find the transition between the gallery's words and hers. I'm not sure why this is significant, but a comment about it feels necessary right now. Evidently, le Méléder spent a lot of time in India and has absorbed Hindu and Buddhistic philosophy to a serious degree. As a result apparently, she glories in the extinction of desire, self, and the liberation of the legendary cycle of death and rebirth.

From my perspective, within the lens of her life, oeuvre and personality, she had recapitulated the theatrical eschatological death wish inherent in Modernity, in both manifestations Modern and Postmodern... a turn of the volume knob on the control panel of painting. Click, click, click until the final snap that powers down the unit off. Painting is her vehicle to a destination called satori. Once she got there, she didn't need the taxicab anymore.

Here's the last lines of the press release in the voice of the artist:

I felt all along the way a great closeness to India in my relationship to the world, to life and to nature; Painting took me on a kind of initiatory journey with its experiences and obstacles, with its phenomena that brought me to awareness. Each step of this journey had to be based on knowledge and not on a simple intuition. These paintings are the manifestations of a phenomenon of shifting consciousness between death or non-being and birth or re-birth. To reach this state, I had to work on a negation of myself, a kind of annihilation, a necessary passage to go towards the unknown.

Posted by Dennis at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 3, 2024

David Rhodes, Doubled


David Rhodes Studio

David Rhodes | Aletheia , January 18 - March 3, 2024 HIGH NOON GALLERY, 124 Forsyth Street, NYC

David Rhodes | Partita , January 26 - March 1, 2024 HELM CONTEMPORARY, 132 Bowery, NYC

This is a great NYC month for my friend David Rhodes. Two solo exhibitions are up centering on David's paintings are up in the galleries of NYC this month. This is on the heels of a fine group exhibition that he was included in, Beyond the Surface, Westbeth Gallery, New York. A great painter, fine writer, a sensitive soul. David included me in a group exhibition at Hionas Gallery when I first moved to NYC in 2012-13. I met Peter Hiionas and consequently met the artists orbiting his space, a group of intelligent and committed artists all.

"David Rhodes: Reconfiguring the authorship of a painting", Two Coats of Paint, by Adam Simon

"David Rhodes: Alethia", The Brooklyn Rail, by Saul Ostrow

The other day while enroute to my studio in Brooklyn via the D Train, I was thinking about how this moment was special for David, of how we can see David's overall painting endeavors in a dimensional way because of the several venues that now feature his work. So I wrote the following thoughts out. I'm pasting them raw without any edits or refinements.

On The Two Rhodes Exhibitions
"He was a sceptic, he was young, abstract, and therefore cruel."
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment


David Rhodes is not young
Is David Rhodes a skeptic?
David Rhodes is an abstractionist.
David Rhodes is gentle.

Alethia: uncovering (truth?) revealing? The subtleties of Heidegger, uncovering the blind side of the Western psyche. The central motif in the High Noon exhibition is the space slicing vertically (and of course diagonally, a constant instrument in his paintings), a parting of curtains, a reveal. Is what is being disclosed is actually "The Origin of the Work of Art"? This suggestion is heavy. Is the clearing for the appearance of things in their world, a setting of a stage?

Partita: music composition, originally referring to a single instrument, Bach used it as a synonym for a suite, a collection.

One, a parting. The other, a gathering.
One, a revelation. The other, an interweaving, a society.

The intervals between lines, the thicknesses of lines: we see how they range from edge to edge, we see the frequency, but a pattern among them is elusive. It suggests a signal but resists a decoding. The pattern of lines suggest frequency and frequency suggests waves. A two slit experiment suggests an observer is present, waves collapsing into particles, particles acting in concert as waves.

The ground is as noumemal as a Malevich black square. It is as if we have fallen into the Last Future. (Zero Ten.) The blackness is velvety, there is no color change from one canvas to the next except for a certain shine and a shifting palpable quality. The eyelids close with not even an afterimage in sight... or alternatively, the rays across the inky depth are flashes of an optic nerve. Two moments before and after the performance: first, the silence before the spotlight alights and second after the applause dies. Both are inky black. Both are full of what is to come and what had been.


PPS: More thoughts arise. An artesian well, Rhodes' work is.

Two categories follow, the issue of representation and abstraction and "fit for purpose":

  • Presenting vs non-presenting (representation vs abstraction) opticality vs geometry
  • Ambivalence? Balance? (Gyroscope?)
  • Bivalent subterfuge? 2 card Monty?
  • Mexican standoff? Frozen? Stalemate? (Intentional like M.A.D.?)
  • Cake & Eat It Too? ("The Unconstrained World" -Sowell)
  • Rhodes' painting is simultaneously presenting (representational) and non-presenting (abstraction). It is both at once like other things and its own thing. At what point is this simultaneity in balance and in conflict? At what point is this frozen? At what point is this a cunning entrapment? At what point is this abundance or depletion?


  • Fit for purpose
  • Speed flow, speed of flow, speed and flow
  • Simplicity (of) facture
  • Limited set of choices > (bleed) escape
  • Raphael Soriano vs Mies van der Rohe (Soriano, the practical idealist and Mies, the covert expressionist
  • Speed serves thought*, thought serves intuition (within a bounded set)
  • Regularity of measure (technique?)
  • Form Follows Function, as the famous Modernist said. "Fit for purpose" is a British phrase I learned while binging BritBox. There's a classically Modernist economy of means operating in Rhodes' work. Tape goes down, paint splashed on, tape goes up.

    No fat.

    * Numberless are the world's wonders / But none more wonderful than man / Words and thought rapid as air / He fashions for his use / And his the skill that deflects the arrows of snow / The spears of winter rain / From every wind he has made himself secure / From every wind he has made himself secure / From all but one ... / all but one / In the late wind of death he cannot stand
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    January 11, 2024

    "Letters to the Future" Panel Discussion

    Posted by Dennis at 2:15 PM | Comments (0)

    "Letters to the Future" Exhibition Walkthrough

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    December 19, 2023


    There exists in the real world of art, an operational paradox: the extrinsic value of art is based on an invested intrinsic value. Intrinsic value is further based on an idea, a conviction, a leap of faith about the priceless.

    The price of art depends on the unwillingness to part with it.

    The exigency of life eventually overcomes the ideal and someday the sheer unwillingness to part with an object will meet a price that conquers it, which in turn ratchets the price of art, reifying its worth.

    Continue reading "PRICELESSNESS"
    Posted by Dennis at 4:47 PM | Comments (0)

    Robert Ryman: 1961-1964


    Robert Ryman: 1961-1964
    David Zwirner Gallery, 537 W. 20th Street, NYC
    November 9, 2023--February 3, 2024

    Goya, Duchamp and Ryman.

    If I were to cite the artists who had influenced me, these are the three that come readily to mind.

    Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp and Robert Ryman.

    It was Goya's painting, "Saturn Devouring His Children" that had me spellbound as I stood before it when I was thirteen years old. I knew deep down inside at that moment that I would be an artist, a painter. I have recounted this event elsewhere in this weblog.

    In the history of Modern Art, Marcel Duchamp is impossible to ignore. Postmodernism wouldn't be the same without him, perhaps it wouldn't have existed. I understand his polemic against painting as "merely retinal" as the necessary artifice of argumentation in order to move into a more conceptual direction in art. Apart from his stature, two aspects stand out for me. Duchamp is the exemplar of the ultimate independence of the artist. Chalk it up to anarchism or his reading the books of Max Stirner, Duchamp followed inspiration whenever it hit him and wherever it led him. The second recourse I found to Duchamp was regarding chance and the fugitive nature of materials. When I discovered the malfunction of my use of titanium white pigment around 2013, it was his acceptance of the damage to his Large Glass that inspried me to steer into the skid and discover a new realm of painting that I would have never considered otherwise. I've painted a few paintings in direct tribute to Duchamp. If you are reading this before the end of January 2024 and want to see an example, I have one hanging in my solo show at HELM Contemporary, 132 Bowery, NYC.

    But this post is supposed to focus on Robert Ryman, and there's an excellent exhibition in town featuring his painting at David Zwirner Gallery: Robert Ryman: 1961 - 1964.

    In the summer of 2017, I started to act on gathering thoughts about the shear weight of my paintings, typically canvas stretched over wood panels. I began daydreaming about what a lighter support could look like, and I thought of Robert Ryman's treatment of the object nature of painting. Already, the nature of my project was to focus on the fact of physical paint, to derive a formal vocabulary from impasto that rivals, that adds to the optical nature of color, line, tonality, etc. Already into the base assumption of my painting, the doorway to what I started to call the Ryman Code was open, waiting for me to walk through it. In Ryman's works, every aspect of a physical painting from the paint in each layer, to the linen/canvas, to the [snip: not the wood, more about that later] wire, to the brackets, to the screw on the wall... each physical component was distinct and expressive.

    A non trivial detail in Ryman's rather thin bio is his experience as a jazz musician, a saxophonist, when he had first arrived in NYC in 1953. Lost somewhere in my YouTube stream is a video about Bill Evans talking about his work in the early 60's, not coincidentally during the period of time Ryman was making those paintings in the Zwirner show. Evans talked about how he wanted to assemble a group of musicians and play in such a way that each one would be distinct and full throated. This is exactly Ryman's program.

    Let componentization be a word. Each component in the entirety of Ryman's physical paintings sings full throated. Notice that when people refer to painting, the support falls away. Painting in common everyday parlance nearly achieves the disembodied two dimensional flatness of Greenbergian fame. People don't generally consider the material fact of painting. Paintings are habitually considered to be windows to an imagined place, but for Ryman, the material existential fact of a painting in all of its aspects, parts and pieces are the place, the destination of his works.

    Within the realm of paint-on-canvas, components reside. In this exhibition, during the years '61 - '64, there were slippage between the parts and pieces: pencil lines, mask, washes, color daubs and finally / famously, his white daubes. Even his signature was an equal player in the band. All are discrete, and almost, almost but not quite, interchangeable. There is slippage between layers, slippage between components and slippage between precision and caprice.

    But for all the apparent movement, the ranks stay in order. Ryman's painting is like an exploded diagram. Paint is not used as the adhesive to a wall, supporting a facture of wires, brackets and linen. All stays in place, Bill Evans is still the band leader. Even within the realm of Ryman's painting proper, the troops remain in ranks. Pencil plans may change and move laterally, but they stay in the rear. Washes don't veil. Curiously, in the painting proper, there is a whole adventure of color daubs that is concealed with white paint, sometimes with precision and sometimes with caprice. This layer is almost like Ryman's secret life, his weekend in Vegas. But what is common to layers colored and white is a consistency of brushload and expenditure. I can see him in his studio, in my mind's eye: brush in hand, a charge from the palette, a gyration with the wrist -the cameraman cuts to a close up of his unusually large glassy spectacled eyes, wide almost to his temples, crowned by his owl-like wizard eyebrows- a gyration of his wrist until the exhaustion of paint material. Reload.

    (Studio: December, 2017)

    PostScript 1: Was Ryman the proto-autist?

    PostScript 2: During the seven years from arrival to NYC to his exit from MoMA security service, what was his making? I read somewhere that he noodled paint on museum postcards. Reminds me of Richter's paint spattered Polaroid photographs. Note that there is no arc in Ryman's oeuvre, or at least it's really, really flat. Not like Rothko, whose early works are starkly different from his mature paintings. His arc is like a climb up El Capitan.

    PostScript 3: Ryman never treated the wood stretchers like the other elements in his work. They're missing. I wonder if this is because he never had a chop saw in his studio?

    Posted by Dennis at 4:00 PM | Comments (0)

    December 15, 2023

    Kismet 4 Social Media

    Three examples of how I like to approach social media. I don't know what irritates me more, Instagram's cookie cutter format or the artists who capitulate to it. I keep asking myself, WWMRD? What would Man Ray do? I'm not saying that what follows below are up to this standard, but it's a standard that I aspire to. It's all an about a mix of kismet, being alert to special encounters, stretching the parameters of media and simply having fun, adventure with it all. Two contemporary exemplars that immediately come to mind: Raymond Pettibon's Twitter channel and Dennis Cooper's weblog.

    Enough said about that. Three examples follow.




    Posted by Dennis at 2:31 PM | Comments (0)

    Sizzle Reel

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    Line Up


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    This is the initial selection of works for Letters to the Future. Subsequent modifications challenged the curatorial premise, but so far the logic holds: the text paintings and their precursors.

    Posted by Dennis at 1:37 PM | Comments (0)

    November 11, 2023

    Opening tonight in the Bowery.


    Tonight I have a solo exhibition of paintings whose subject is centered around the period when I was painting text based works, in and around 2016.

    HELM Contemporary is a new gallery founded by collectors of my work, George Parra, Karina Aergudo and Jian Liang. Around two years ago, they started to discussed the possibility of starting up a gallery whose business plan is based on their own experience as young collectors encountering the art market and knowing that there are a lot of people like them, accomplished professionals who have a native appreciation of art, who have been awakened to the adventure of art but who are to a significant degree, daunted by the formidable, mandarin, byzantine, elitist Fine Art world. Their business plan is a simple and direct matching of supply and demand: there exists a pool of accomplished artists who have yet to be granted representational entry to the realm of the Mega-Galleries and there exists a pool of potential collectors who have yet to be granted entry to the realm of the Mega-Galleries. They feel they know enough to start, that time is of the essence (the captains of the Mega-Galleries are keenly aware of this as you might learn with cursory research), and they know that there is much to learn going forward. They're willing to grow on the public stage, and I've seen them grow from my point of view. Intrepid.

    Following posts will color in more background in the making of this exhibition.

    Posted by Dennis at 4:41 PM | Comments (0)

    just so


    just so
    36" x 96" or 48" x 72"*
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel


    I have a strong "rule" not to rotate a canvas while I am painting it. In my entire oeuvre, I've embraced constraints as an implicit critique against a prevailing over swollen legacy of regarding art as a world of boundless possibilities. While it seems innocent enough, a healthy encouragement to attempt the impossible, to break out of boxes... in our Information Age, such an attitude has slipped into the back of our collective mind and has grown like weeds, forcing us into our current Zombified Hall of Mirror condition. Instead of spinning the canvas, hoping like a gambler for a lucky strike, I look for the happy accidents in other places. Irony rules our world: the boundless tends to wither possibilities, the boundaries can open the door to the boundless. In particular, I look what is possible within the surface tension of impasto paint and the gravity of its mass while all the while, my compass heading is fixed. Up is up and down is down. However...

    This particular conjunctive pair of panels were indeed painted under the wide spread horizontally constrained format. But when I set the painting up to photograph and rack it in my studio, I flashed on the possibility to conjoin them in another configuration. My rule *evidently* [insert the winky emoticon here] applies only while I am engaged in the act of painting. It was an elegant rotation about an axis in the middle of my stamped signature, the left panel swinging down and over 270 degrees, while the whole assembly rotated port 90 degrees with the left becoming the right and the right becoming the left. ( I sense a twinge of a connection to the politics of our current geo-political period. Let's let this gun remain on the table for now. Silos must remain separate to remain silos... despite the occasional leak here and there.) Providence aligned all significant features of the painting while keeping its spirit intact. Post-hoc rotation is A-OKAY.


    Continue reading "just so"
    Posted by Dennis at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

    All this in a flash


    All this in a flash
    60" x 48"
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel

    Continue reading "All this in a flash"
    Posted by Dennis at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Wonders of the World


    Wonders of the World
    60" x 48"
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel

    Continue reading "Wonders of the World"
    Posted by Dennis at 2:37 PM | Comments (0)

    Caché of the dare


    Caché of the dare
    18" x 12"
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel

    Continue reading "Caché of the dare"
    Posted by Dennis at 2:34 PM | Comments (0)

    Even within the fragment


    Even within the fragment
    18" x 12"
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel

    Continue reading "Even within the fragment"
    Posted by Dennis at 2:30 PM | Comments (0)

    Divulgement. Submission.


    Divulgement. Submission.
    2022 (2023)
    18" x 12"
    Oil and Acrylic on Canvas over Wood Panel

    Continue reading "Divulgement. Submission."
    Posted by Dennis at 2:12 PM | Comments (0)

    October 26, 2023

    Homer's ILIAD. Book 1. Read in original Ancient Greek

    Posted by Dennis at 9:46 AM | Comments (0)

    October 25, 2023

    Exegesis: Painting the Iliad, 2023

    Posted by Dennis at 6:26 PM | Comments (0)



    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 24, "A Grace Given in Sorrow"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Gracia"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:37 PM | Comments (0)



    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 23, "A Friend Consigned to Death"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Luto"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:34 PM | Comments (0)



    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 22, "Desolation Before Troy"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Aniquilación"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:29 PM | Comments (0)

    Dios del Rio


    "Dios del Rio"
    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 21, "The Clash of Man and River"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Dios del Rio"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:26 PM | Comments (0)



    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 20, "The Avenger Fasts and Arms"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Matadero"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:24 PM | Comments (0)



    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 19, "The Avenger Fasts and Arms"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Recargar"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:21 PM | Comments (0)



    "The Immortal Shield"
    36 x 28.5 cm
    Oil & Alkyd on Paper

    Chapter 18, "Contending for a Soldier Fallen"
    Homer's Iliad, Penguin Edition
    Translated by Robert Fitzgerald


    Continue reading "Escudo"
    Posted by Dennis at 5:18 PM | Comments (0)