At the beginning of 2012 my father's last two living siblings (out of a family of seven) were both very ill. My father found himself facing into the abyss of being the last of his family, a family with many unresolved conflicts, many unspoken words, and a troubled history.
I found myself pondering many of the questions he must have at the time, and also examining my own relationship with my father.
The two brothers were John (Legs) and Paddy(Pro). John was confined to bed in a nursing home, fading under the debilitating Parkinson’s disease, his older brother Paddy(Pro) was battling cancer.
I decided to make portraits of the two brothers, as a tribute to my uncles, their family, but also to examine my own feelings about my father and myself. Around the time I found these two photo portraits in National Geographic (above) of members of the 'Lohar' people in India (an travelling ethnic group). The two shown above struck me and reminded me in some ways of my uncles. Their faces have such stories, such strength, compassion and wisdom. As my portraits would be abstract anyway I decided to use these men as models for the paintings. The man on the left is a shephard, and on the right is a magician.
While I was working on the portraits my uncle Paddy passed away. His portrait - initially based on the shephard - became a much more abstract painting, more concerned with the transistion from this existence to ... ??
I called it 'Paddy's Dark Secret' as it was about the regret of things left unsaid and taken with into the next life. The painting shows a small red object, similar to a mezuzah (a small case on the doorframe of a Jewish home containing prayers or blessings) receeding into the watery depths.
In the painting about John there is something over his head, his eyes and mouth are obscured. It was about his state of slowly become less lucid and the frustration of not communicating clearly.
Left is a study sketch for Legs, the finished paintings are shown