, is the first extensive contemporary interpretation of these works of the anonymousancient artists of Iraq. Though originally created for the Assyrian King, Ashurbanipal, in the 7
century B.C, the Nineveh Lion Hunts are, as I experience them, an eloquent and timelessmetaphor for the tragedy of the present Iraqi War. The compositional sophistication of theAssyrian works, and their resulting psychological charge, has only recently been fullyappreciated and examined; in my work, these unique qualities are refigured and amplified.Leonine forms evocatively prefigure the Iraqi dead - imago of the powerless Other; mineralthread vectors convey the impersonal violence which penetrates these leonine souls and embodythe societal projection of force - a collapse of Past into Present. Referencing the mass and powerful interaction of the Assyrian works,
The Killing of Lions; An Iraqi War Meditation
iscomprised of two diptychs in dynamic dialogue; - four panels each measuring 33H x 96W x 2Dinches. Diptych One comprises
The Lion Attacking
and Diptych Two,
The Lion Released
Offering of the Lion
. Viewer response to my work and to the Assyrian Lion Hunts,the source of my inspiration, has been moving; both works convey a deep and reflective gravitas- sublime, restrained and monumental.
The Relevance of the Ancient to the Modern
Physics affirms that in nature, there are no categories of beings, there are only “connections”forming a “tissue” of being; so, too, with the sensibilities and formulations of culture.
of art in modern art history are a new, and arguably artificial, historical construct. Art is in livingdialogue with cultures and traditions both past and present, as the current quest for a “globalaesthetic” affirms. It is an ongoing exploration and conveyance of expression, communicationand reception of spiritual values beyond the purview of words.
Ancient art offers us a visualarchipelago of such submerged impulses and energies. Interestingly, these same insights aremanifest through the “excavating” practices of archeology and psychoanalysis; powerful and primal drives are evidenced, identified, and held forth for our examination and contemplation.The nature, activity, and expression of this submerged machinery are of continued interest to meas reflected in the mythic archetypes and cultural lives of various societies and civilizations. Itwas the ancient artist who first gave form to these psychic voices. Powerfully resonant andrelevant today, these forces determine our humanity within the contemporary moment. Throughthese “snap-shots” of our psychological past, we become reacquainted with older, submerged,and turbulent aspects of ourselves.The Nineveh Lion Hunts - the inspiration for my work- represent just such a powerful aestheticdocument. I experience them as very “contemporary” works. Within them violence and power are condensed, contained, restrained, and juxtaposed with elements of extreme sensitivity and beauty. The compositional structure is masterful and dynamic; it is of high sophistication. Thevisual relationship between the impassive formality and dominance of the human figures and thedescriptive pathos of the animals is famously moving. All these qualities result in anextraordinary and peculiar quality of tension, which is transmitted to the viewer on all levels;aesthetically, psychologically and emotionally. In my study of these ancient works, I knew that Ihad found a unique and compelling statement, the elements of which when brought forward,could speak with power and relevance to the present.2