24″ x 18″ . Watercolor with Dr. Ph. Martin’s bleed-proof white . 2022
I always bother to write a wall of text about my work because the right people will find this “Rosetta Stone” and appreciate my process. Art creators who can clearly express their purpose without the clairvoyance of a verbose, oftentimes pretentious interpreter are almost extinct! There’s also the possibility of murdering someone with my words which means I’ll be helping the planet! And, I like offering people realities other than this one. Besides, new ideas may completely alter one’s perspective for the better.
The subject of this work initially revolved around fear. Specifically, it was about the fear of being ostracized for the nonconformity needed to pursue one’s dreams. It’s a valid and realistic concern, and it led to a personal evaluation of my own fears.
So what do I fear?
First of all, this artwork stayed in my cabinet for two years because I was so afraid to destroy the most beautiful and perfect inkblot I had ever created. After half-painting in the two central lions, some cat impressions, and the two cheetahs, I was so overwhelmed by preserving all the blots as is, that I got stuck. Doesn’t this sound like the lives of many people? Getting stuck in a loop because the risk of achieving more comes with the caveat of potential failure despite one’s best efforts?
How stupid I was to even think that I could even fuck up my own artwork. I already made it, so I can fix it. Was I going to have this half-finished artwork sitting in my drawer for eternity? How am I going to ever create something better if I already believe I’ve made something so good that I don’t have to move forward? Retardation! So I looked at this inkblot one last time and really fucked it up it for good.
As an added insult to my injured ego-of-Christmas-past, I used subject-matter that I absolutely dread to paint as a mental exercise. In order to become something better, we really need to let our past accomplishments go, and we really need to get out of our comfort zones. The subjects that make me cringe happen to be cute fluffy things, the female body, comical humor, and love (I’m making a face already).
Cute Fluffy things
The end result fell nothing short of CAT-astrophic! While the original concept was filled with nothing but wild cats, they simply aren’t evil at all, just powerful. Wild animals are the perfect examples of absolute virtue by fulfilling their roles in nature. It’s the rolly-polly, pudgy-wudgy, widdle house cats that are the true representations of evil! They train us to feed them, pick up their poo, and whether they treat us like shit or not, we do it anyway. I have cats who bite, hiss, scratch me, and cats who act all cutie-patootie ONLY FOR FOOD, but they get served all the same. Evil shits. Did you know that cats don’t even meow at each other? They created that sound specifically for us Homo Sapiens!
The other reason behind this CAT-astrophe is that cats are the only real kings in this world. They are their own gods, they have their secrets, they always have one foot in the other world. Why do cats poo the second after you clean the litter box even if they’d pooped already? Why do cats always leave a little bit at the bottom of the bowl? Christopher Walken says it’s an offering, I think it’s some sort of sick, twisted, secret charm school training where you’re not supposed to clean your plate out of self respect. Also did you know that the stripey pattern on tabbies creates a 3-D illusion that confuses fleas? Amazing! This is going to get too long, there’s enough information for you to figure out the rest. Cats.
I’ve started to believe that the cosmic order, spiritual, supernatural, “sephirothal”, universal, extra-terrestrial, “tralala-whateveral”, is governed by a duality of forces. This is why I’m so liberal about the whole God/Satan thing, because each represents one side of the same coin. Satan’s part of the system guys, he’s just doing his job! Nothing rebellious there!
This is still about cats, hang in there! It was therefore a relief to learn that before the politicization of religion, ancient Egypt also believed in such a duality of forces –think Yin and Yang. Anyway, there seems to be no other better ambassador of this duality concept in one deity than the enigmatic Baphomet, often misappropriated as the symbol for the Devil (Duh. Not my problem though). The Baphomet comes with bonus catchy phrases that make it a complete package too, e.g. “As above, so below”, and “Solve et Coagula” – Perfect!
Call it a new angle, perhaps even my own personal “Iconology”, but I needed a symbol to consolidate my beliefs about cats, along with my agreement with the Ancient Egyptians about universal duality. So voila! I came up with a “Bastet-omet”, an amalgamation between Baphomet and the Ancient Egyptian Cat god, “Bastet” from Bu-bastis. (Catomet has been used already, and Bu-bastetomet sounds like “boob” so no).
The Female Body.
It’s curvy, and less “architectural”. A male’s with its more developed muscles is more fun to draw, period.
I’m not saying that art with humor does not fulfill the criteria to be deemed as “Fine Art”, but putting humor in my own work does not fulfill MY criteria. There is a difference! Consequently, incorporating comical elements to cater to personal standards was a fun little challenge. Art is sacred after all. Thankfully, I had help from all my crazy cats again because just looking at them makes me laugh (or want to put them all in a blender, depends on the day). It’s also about time I give credit where it’s due, because my cats (and dog who thinks he’s a cat) are the behind-the-scenes characters who make my studio such a happy place. So again, instead of the big wild cats, I painted in my domesticated evil ones in various states of human manipulation.
Here are some of them:
The late Lucy – She had glaucoma on one eye.
Straplock, “Strappy” (guitarists would understand his name)
Mingus, “Meningitus”, “Mingoloid” (he induces his own brain damage by drinking my coffee)
Vanta (+banana) – the blackest pigment
C-5 (highway where we found her)/ ”Cremnitz”(a poisonous white paint made of lead)/ “Brain-D’oh”. She’s deaf it doesn’t really matter what we call her.
Wanda – the VVitch
Ranma – the bitch queen supreme / “Lumpy Space Princess”
By the way, these aren’t all the cats in the painting. Try to find the rest!
I’m making a face already.
Ahhhhhh looooooove, “the many splendored thing”. But that’s Hollywood love, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Love (Fucking Retardation In Extra Nondescript Situations = F.R.I.E.N.D.S.!), Beverly Hills 90210 love. Boring cheesy love. Definitely not the kind I’m talking about.
My horse Arnie is always the first thing that comes to mind when I think about love. Our lives together are an ongoing epic saga, from rescuing him as an older, mentally “unhinged”, unfit, abandoned horse, retraining him in dressage, going up 3 levels and winning everything there was to win when he was at the ripe old age of 24 (he was a tractor amongst Ferraris), and the health obstacle that really changed both of our lives.
During our last competition season, the hair on top of his hooves started standing on end. I thought it was some sort of fungal infection and after consulting a vet, treated it appropriately. Soon, a white residue started to form on top of all his hooves, like camembert cheese, so obviously the medicine wasn’t working. Eventually, the ‘cheese’ started eating away at his hooves and destroying them, causing them to crack like the Sahara desert from the top, and ooze liquid from the bottom. I couldn’t scrub this cheese off either because it would bleed. None of the vets were sure what to make of it, and kept on prescribing medication after medication, and all sorts of supplements, none of which worked. I really thought it was the beginning of the end, especially when the President of the Philippine Equine Veterinary Board said that euthanasia was the eventuality. But, as usual, I wasn’t satisfied. So that’s it? Slap on whatever meds your stupid textbooks tell you to and if they don’t work, throw in the towel? That’s not curing! That’s following a recipe! After about 6 months of deterioration + frustrating disappointment, I just said screw the vets and decided to take things into my own hands or die trying. The President of the Veterinary Board tried to scare me even more by saying my horse was really going to die if I didn’t give him these new fangled immunotherapy shots, but by that time, I really said fuck it! He already said euthanasia was around the corner, so there wasn’t anything left to lose whether it got delayed or not.
First, I wrote letters to other professionals all over the world, including practitioners of alternative medicine, (why not try everything?) none of whom were able to help. Meanwhile, watching my horse’s health progressively decline with no clue or guide for what to do next was like being crucified every day. Every second of my waking reality was the fear that Arnie’s hooves would break off from the top and that the bones would slide through the soles (it really happens to horses). It felt like an atomic bomb was about to explode any second, and I literally would jump out of my skin every time my mobile phone rang anticipating the bad news of excruciating pain before murdering my horse out of kindness. It was torture, it was living hell, and I had to act like everything was normal because people generally cannot fathom such relationships with animals. Remember, I had no idea which way was up, and there were no answers. The only thing that really kept me going was Arnie himself, who found ways to tell me every day that he wanted to keep living too.
While proverbially banging my head on a wall, I decided to review Arnie’s diet one more time. Despite ingredient elimination trials in the past, my gut told me that the missing piece of the puzzle was still somewhere in the food. Now I can even give his condition my own term/diagnosis – it was a comorbidic allergy, because the abnormal immune response brought diabetes along with it. The scientific details aren’t necessary because that’s the gist of it.
I already knew he was reactive to too much sugar so I cut that out. He was also reactive to alfalfa, but continued to be symptomatic without it in the diet… Until I had this hair-brained idea to write the manufacturers of his vitamins and electrolytes to ask about trace ingredients that aren’t printed on the label. And true enough, I received an email stating that his multivitamin HAD traces of alfalfa not in print. Technically this is lawsuit material, but figuring this out healed the oozing and the cheesy crusts in a matter of days.
With alfalfa and excess sugar out of the picture, the next step was to custom formulate my horse’s diet from scratch. Even though the lesions healed, the dry cracked hooves didn’t, and I wasn’t sure whether they could bear the weight of exercise. Though reluctant to consult another ‘specialist’ again, I decided to try a few nutritionists until I finally found one who helped me solve the last “missing link”. The cracked hooves were caused by remnants of the allergy, “acidosis”, an imbalance of gut bacteria impeding his hoof formation.
All of this took two years. Two years of trial and error, success and failure, absolute sheer fucking terror of absolute uncertainty, mentally conditioning myself to persist and keep everything together despite knowing that everything can turn to shit. I jumped straight into the abyss, no parachute. Hey, at least Jesus was only crucified once. It was two years of anticipating a nuclear explosion every second, dying and forcing myself to be reborn every day because my horse needed me, + keeping calm enough to address the next problem that cropped up along the way, + staying sane for the sake of my livelihood! It is also important to mention that since his cracked hooves were too unstable for him to wear shoes indefinitely, I had to learn all sorts of new skills a la “trial by fire” such as give a horse a “barefoot trim”. All of this happened without the outside world fully understanding what was going on, with people saying he was too thin, that his hooves were weird blablabla, because they’re simple and basic like that. It used to really bother me, but I really didn’t have time to explain to every Tom, Dick, and idiot with a mouth. Thankfully my skin has grown much thicker because of this experience too, but to this day nobody truly understands the extent of what happened because people pretty much live in their own heads. That’s why it’s a good time to make a written record about how much all of this made me evolve as a human being, apart from deeply ingraining how I can truly deal with anything.
8 years later, present day, my horse is alive and well at 30 years old while all the people including the vets seem to have conveniently forgotten that nightmare we went through. And despite all the things I’ve learned through healing Arnie, I really can help so many other horses, but people like their recipes after all.
The point behind this loooooong story is that I did everything out of love. Not even faith, just pure love. They say love is sacrifice, but all that anguish didn’t even feel like an exchange, it was simply the right thing to do, involuntary, automatic, like breathing. It was hard, but it also transformed me into a much better version of myself. Call it transcending the self. That’s what real love does.
The God Defense (What do you call it in court? the Defense Speech?)
Since we’re on the topic of love, I might as well present my God argument. It’s time to be objective –I’ve played on Satan’s side of the court more than a few times.
Love is a quality that is uniquely God’s. And what makes love unique is that it cannot be bought. Through this experience with Arnie, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the saying “God made us in his image”. Because, with love, I was able to pluck my horse away from the strings of fate, the gods, destiny, and give him his own timeline. Seriously, if you were sick and the president of a medical board told you that you were done + all the other doctors didn’t know what to do, wouldn’t giving up sound sane? But I simply didn’t. And it was through love that I was able to do something truly miraculous, God-like. Maybe I’m also the most hard headed person in the world.
And again going back to God creating us in his image, I think we’re supposed to be making our own stories, adapting our own fate, and not just following what is cookie cutter good by going to church, or textbook rebelliousness by declaring: “Hail Satan”. That’s just like being a painter who copies photos without really making a stand or creating anything new. We should be our own gods, constantly striving for Apotheosis and then more, and in the process that is also how we venerate this gift of the God Seed/ Cosmic Seed. AGAIN, we should take fate into our own hands EXTRAORDINARILY. In fact, the first step to freedom is doing the simplest tasks excellently. ARBEIT really MACHT FREI! Figure out the rest. I’m not a therapist. This is also how we elevate, dare I say “save” those people in the human race who want something more than this “mass stupidification”.
With Satan, there is always an exchange, it’s like an insecure relationship. You give this, in exchange for a guaranteed future, guaranteed success, guaranteed power while you whittle away at yourself to constantly prove your loyalty. A guaranteed outcome only represents fear once again –The main subject of this painting. What I like about the God concept is you own yourself, so you’re happy to do things regardless of outcome or rewards, you’re not an addict of expectation, and you don’t even have to worship God to obtain the seed. Everyone has it by default.
Black metal in particular can be really funny sometimes. To its fans, do you ever bother reading the lyrics of the songs you listen to? I’m just so glad I don’t understand what’s being sung half the time because OMG most of it is such a bunch of lovesick drivel that it makes me want to vomit. All this invoking the spirit of lalala, Leviathan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Belial etc. etc. to have the power to face some sexy diabolical female counterpart and begin Armageddon WAT? LAWL! WTF? REALLY??! Maybe try talking to a human first? Oh wait, the fact that you can’t control people’s minds makes them resort to this voodoo-hoodoo in the first place. A lot of black metal songs are lovesick ramblings and lamentations for people desperately wanting to control their gender counterpart. Ok I said it! Again, love is not about control! Also a lot of black metal is dance music disguised under blast beats! Ok I’m definitely in trouble now! Not all of it, but a lot definitely is! OK!?!?! My point is, again, trading parts of yourself to become empowered enough to have predictable sexy diabolical fantasy controlled love is just…LMFAO… Too much Hollywood! Buy a blow up doll! This is what makes the topic really cringeworthy.
This is just so butthurt looooooong already… but it’s just as important. SELF LOVE *cringe again*. Yup.
It’s not about going to the spa (Zzzzzzz), or partying and getting wasted over the weekend, spoiling yourself, whatever. That’s not love, that’s escapism (which has its uses too). Simply put, self love is about preserving your sanity. Inner peace is not an end to a means, it’s a constant state of maintenance because you cannot control life happening to you. Self love is the difficult process of volitional self crucifixion for the sake of constant evolution. It is evaluating yourself, disciplining your mind, disciplining your body, and your proverbial “spirit”, (whatever you wanna call it), so that you can face life completely free and ready for anything, without carrying all the baggage of the things you’re afraid to lose along the way. And like with taking care of Arnie, like physical fitness, it’s constant work, and then the magic happens. Also, it’s from choosing your battles. I’ll quote my own band Demiurge’s lyrics, “I’ll be no victim of your war”.
Amusingly the “party black metal” band 1349 has great instructions for maintaining “Enlightenment” in one of their songs, “Through the Eyes of Stone”
Deathless, the undivided
Lifeless, void absolute
Nameless, walk now eternal
Sightless, on path divine
Fleshless, thorn unbridled
Ageless, ways within ways
Mine is this glorious instant
Merging fire, spirit, blood, and void
Floating over shadow play
Through worlds within worlds
Seeing through eyes of stone
Through eyes of stone
Surrender this mortal flesh
Mine is this exalted vision
Merging chasm, mind, will, and soul
Dead eye staring sightlessly
Blinded by shafts of golden rays
See the God/Devil coin paradox again? Here’s a “Satanic song” telling you how to reach Tirthankara via the universal cliché: Detach your emotions from the things you cannot control and focus your energies on what you can change. LMAO! Stoicism! There’s also this other song, “The Pentagram Burns”. Is it burning out of veneration or destruction? Isn’t it supposed to be burning like the Eye of Sauron anyway? Are we supposed to throw water at it so it won’t be reduced to smoldering ashes? Life is just so confusing sometimes! OKokokok I’ve gotten derailed again!
Is the ribbony stuff on the painting. It is used in Heraldry/Royalty to distinguish the nobility from each other and adorn family crests. All that wild crazy colorful frilly stuff on coats of arms is there to make the knights more distinct. Were it not for mantling I think knights would just be “50 shades of gray” (ewww). Mantling is also an excuse for ornamental flamboyance, and I’ve always found it fascinating.
While a lot of mantling is the same on the left and the right, the really good kind is almost “Escheresque” in how everything is perfectly flipped not in a simple mirror image, but more like the universal laws of light and shadow! Amazing! So in my mantling, everything that’s advancing on the left is receding on the right, everything that’s over in the left is under in the right. It supports the concept of Bastet-omet dispensing opposing forces quite neatly. I scratched my head a few times figuring it all out but the process was extremely gratifying! Plus it was icing on the cake to turn all the ends of the ribbons into heraldic-lion-like claws! Rarrr! Doing so made my nose bleed a bit more, but ahhh the result was worth it!
AND FINALLY, the unifying theme (not subject!) that ties this whole painting together is that of being a king. So a lion may be a king of the beasts, but his head is just another trophy to a beta-male human with no power, just a gun. A cat may be a cutie-patootie ball of fluff, but it uses its mind to make us pick up its shit. The greater one’s kingdom, the greater the responsibility so you eventually become a prisoner of your assets. You may be powerful in hell, but you’re constantly paying dues. You may be free under heaven’s laws but have no worldly possessions. To many people, Arnie, through my care, is the happiest horse in the stable. They say he “lives like a king”, but to me I’m just making stabled life worth living because every horse in a stall is a prisoner. One man’s king is just another man’s slave.
You tell me.