I made this small oil painting back in 2001. To this day I revolve around the idea of the ground-rooted figure, organic but not fully human.
. . . . . . .
On the crown of this figure’s head in his budding youth is a design of dark green curved lines, indicating the undeveloped petals folded tightly within. He bows slightly to the side and raises his hands to his face, mittened fists held against his forehead, but not in a gesture of weeping or despair. It slowly dawns on him he’s growing, not suffocating in a body bag, that though the lines on the crown of his head cut deep, his face isn’t covered in bandages.
The top of his green outer-covering retracts from his emerging head like a pleated turtleneck collar. Behind two lids tightly sealed his vision feels around like fingers running over inscrutable braille and passing on in search of some edge or opening leading out to light. He endures the deepening curved lines on the crown of his head, the small areas in between them lightening as they swell into protuberances, like an invisible branding iron being pressed into his skull. Bowing under the pressure and tilting forward, he lowers his hands, mittened fists held together under his nose like a praying boxer before a fight he knows he can’t win.
His roots, turning arterial, worm their way through the soil, branching out deeper down, nourishing and stabilizing his upward striving. The turtleneck-like collar from which extends his neck and head splits along its pleats and forms into little leaves. Body stiffening upright, he pulls his elbows together toward his belly and, like a living hieroglyph trying to simplify its configuration, he splays out his forearms. His hands, springing open, then split through his mitten-like coverings and emerge yellowish green, fresh and luminous, but almost immediately on exposure to the light and air the human side of his consciousness begins more fully to awaken, a red tide rising within, swirling around, blood mixing with the sap in his body, manifesting as stain and blush around the folds and creases of his skin.
He begins to experience the suffering of flesh. Pain shoots up his roots, traveling through his body and, sharpening on ascent, pierces the orbs in his head like two arrows. On impact his lids crack open. The punctures left on his orbs, two small dark holes, could be mistaken for pupils. He tilts his head up to look into the sky, but he’s blind, only able to sense through the pain in his wounds. When he turns the palms of his hands outward to receive the Holy Stigmata, however, nothing happens. He sticks out his tongue.
The dark matter synthesizing within him, gradually transforming, swells at its peak into a new organ, which finally cracks the shell of his skull, splitting through the crown of his head. Emerging formed into three leaflets, blushing flesh-flaps conjoined, is a sign from the Demiurge, a vaguely obscene but strangely alluring blossom which at its clenched tip, the compact juncture of its unfolding, alternately resembles aortic valve and anus. Swelling further and reddening around its edges it resembles an eroticized wound within which all the colors of the rainbow seem to be held in thrall to the possible eruption of blood and feces.
His face completes changing from yellowish green to a blend of beige and peach now beginning to flush scarlet and crimson. Lids opening wide, his two orbs bulge, the punctures stinging, the two small hollows snaking down through his body, as folds of skin roll away from the blossom engorged and swelling further out of his head. He throws his hands up in foreboding of his approaching fate, but soon overcome by nature’s indifference, drawing his tongue back into his mouth, he resigns himself to the overall progression.
As if punctuation marks have escaped from the world of the printed page, risen out of their black coverings and float free in the clear blue sky, clouds with a life of their own, gathering and drifting, stream on in search of a new identity. They explore the limits of their possibility, from their soft and fluffy whiteness blooming orangish red, glowing yellow, blushing traces of rose. They appear fruity like orange rinds and silky like flower petals, until in epiphany, like a transubstantiated exclamation point finally finding its place, they drift down, converging on the engorged and swelling blossom, and absorbing not only its fragrance, putrid and sweet, but the tragic vibes coming from deeper within, transform themselves into a radiant but subdued halo.
At his glorious peak, just when he could be taken for some obscure religious icon, he gives birth to his own death. The blossom bursts out of the crown of his head, flowering, which blows a hole through the clouds. His arms are thrown askew like a warped sun wheel. His two orbs on stems spring out, wobbling like ridiculous wands; and his petals finally released, raw, pink and red-veined, flop like tongues out of his split open face. Once the orgasmic seizure has subsided, color begins to drain from his body, his skin turning pale, his olive green outer-covering being overtaken by brown, and he collapses to the ground, falling across the blades of grass. Dying on his side he faces back toward the stages of his life like the curved end of parentheses.