Nudibranchs Ascending a Staircase
“Nudibranchs are hermaphroditic, thus have a set of reproductive organs for both sexes, but they cannot fertilize themselves. ... Nudibranchs typically deposit their eggs within a gelatinous spiral, which is often described as looking like a ribbon.” Wikipedia
My goal with this painting was to create a Fish-Out-of-Water version of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase which – along with The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors – were two of the three paintings that most impressed me as a child when I’d visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art which was pretty much every Saturday since I attended art classes there. I noticed, when I was about ¾ of the way through the work, that there’s a pretty strong hint of Mondrain in there as well. No surprise as I liked his work as well.
But the Nude Ascending was a painting to get lost in… and I did. I also got lost plenty working on this piece. I chose the nudibranch as a subject because I’m a fan of whimsy and they are nothing if not whimsical. Also, being a strong supporter of LGBTQ equality, their hermaphroditism appeals to me tremendously. As I neared the end of the work I realized that the nudibranchs were telling a story about life… rushing in, getting all turned around on the way up, looking mystified towards the end… as if “Why?” Then, finally at the top, looking down at the journey, clearly tired but also kind of amused. It just made itself that way.