Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Art of Jack Kevorkian

I had a hard time believing it as well.

Jack Kevorikian...yes, that Jack Kevorkian...was an artist.  "Doctor Death" himself was a painter. He was also a jazz musician with a style that Entertainment Weekly apparently called "weird" but "good natured" (see that Wikipedia link.)  What I intended to focus upon in this post, however, is his painting. Other than a museum in Royal Oak, Michigan, I'm not certain where you can go to see this art in person.  The original prints aren't for sale so that rules out...I dunno, Art Emporium or Painting Rialto or some other such nonexistent mart that sells art.

The above piece is called "For He Is Raised" and is an obvious jab at the Christian holiday of Easter.  As related in the PBS Frontline piece linked above, Kevorikian characterized the painting and Easter as "The annual resurrection by dumb bunnies of a pathetic, despairing, almost scorned image of the purported divinity is hardly noticeable amid the tawdry paraphernalia of irresistible paganism at its vernal orgy."

"Nearer My God to Thee" is said to be Kevorkian's expression of how most people view death.   "How forbidding that dark abyss! How stupendous the yearning to dodge its gaping orifice. How inexorable the engulfment. Yet, below are the disintegrating hulks of those who have gone before; they have made the insensible transition and wonder what the fuss is all about. After all, how excruciating can nothingness be?"

Yep.  Back in the dark, impenetrable void, Jean Paul Sarte and Jack Kevorkian were a movin' and a groovin'.

"Very Still Life."  A piece that makes an effort at understanding the balance between the cold and the comfort of death, "spiced with the sardonic humor of irony."

"Fever."  "It depicts the great discomfort of intense bodily heat. The inferno is internal; and in some tragic cases even the will to live is charred."

Of all the Kevorkian paintings, it is "Fever" that drew my attention the most.  Not for its quality of art exactly, but for who the artist was.  Kevorkian was close to many people at death and not simply in cases of assisted suicide.  As a doctor, he watched many people in their final throes, several of those with fever no doubt.  He saw enough to know and he managed to capture the pain and the essence of such an occasion on canvas.  For whatever his flaws, Kevorkian was bold enough to get his face up in death.

And there is so much pain in this world.  Right or wrong, Kevorkian was trying to put an end to at least a bit of it.  That said, I can't say i care for his art.  Its cartoony and comic bookish, the kind of thing you'd find on the cover of a heavy metal album, not hanging in an art gallery.  

Of course, as with all matters artistic, that's just my opinion.

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  1. On Facebook, DePaul Joe said: "Funny you should mention heavy metal album covers; Acid Bath used the top image of your post for their second album: "


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