The Virus Series
This small series of paintings is dedicated to everyone affected by the deadly pandemic we are experiencing and tries to bring my outlook and insight into the world condition. The first in the series "The Virus" depicts the virus as a figure, not as the invisible sphere covered with red and orange triangles we see in the news everywhere. I have made the virus a figure because ultimately we are the enemy who has contracted, spread and proliferated this disease. It is our social habits, and in some cases, our governments lack of action and concern that has turned us into the carriers of death and destruction. The virus is alien and has turned us into aliens.
The virus is painted to share the traits of nature where brightly colored exteriors give a warning of the danger within. The Virus stands in a void landscape with the storm it conjures as a sole figure watches, also turned alien by its isolation and fear. The Virus is both bright and slightly seductive as it infiltrates the worlds of people, who as humans have a real need for contact, to express love, compassion and caring. It enters and slaughters those who fail to restrict themselves from all that we have come to know as the human condition. The Virus represents every fear most of us have never had or dreamed of, yet has always existed as an outside chance, in a world ever more complex and full of chance. The textures of these figures act as an evolution of the techniques I used to combine the Apollonian and Dionysian, to bring what Nietzsche believed to be the ultimate beauty in art.
The figures and the landscape in these paintings are derived from experiments I had been working on in C4D using Redshift for extreme displacement mapping. I would like to thank Amanda Moore for allowing me to use one of her spectacular flame fractals as the map that defines the Virus. I will be working to finalize the ARC of paintings and the story they tell with "We are Stardust" to complete my observations as an artist of the world perhaps forever changed and the differences we need to address.
"The Virus" Louis Markoya - 2020
Poisonous Creatures in Nature
Nature chose to warn other elements of danger by giving many poisonous creatures bright coloring. This evolutionary trait has been passed along to my Virus, as it looks across a barren landscape, devoid of life, and a world transformed by its existence. The Virus is not only colored as these examples but also utilizes the patterns found in these creatures to warn all others. While the warning is there, the Virus as a figure represents its seductive killing power as it attacks us from within, from being human, from wanting the contact that makes us human.
After the Virus- Louis Markoya 48"x32"
"After the Virus" shows our two figures transformed, together but still separated, and deeply scarred by the impact of "The Virus". They are still separated by what we are calling social distancing, and not sure when or how we can ever return to normal. They like all humans long for the comradery of cohorts, they long for what makes us human, they long for love and touch.
While the sky is now clear of the virus's storm and signals a new dawn, even one with less pollution, less noise, less obstacles, clearer for your lungs and thought, the minds of the populace and my figures are forever changed. There is a fear that the air is still carrying this enemy, invisible and possibly deadly.
The deep and prevalent scars of the figures are remnants of all the emotional, psychological, environmental. economic and even political strain caused by the pandemic. The stress has caused many to gain weight, gain anxiety, gain stress, lose sleep, lose days, weeks and concepts of time. Lose jobs, relationships, marriages friends and concepts of togetherness and all that implies. Invoked fear and loathing, separating those separated even more. Perhaps even more significant than the lives it has taken, it has stolen from us the requirement of human contact, human touch and gatherings of all kinds. Decimating businesses and activities of every nature. World and local economies will need long to recover, and many small businesses will never return. The erotic undertone of the painting is a visualization of the desire the virus spawned for human contact of all kinds.
One lesson the virus has taught us, and depicted by the figures having the same scars even though one carried the virus and the second did not, is that we are the same. Not just as a country or race, but globally. Sure there are statistics that prove the virus is more prevalent in men than women, blacks than Caucasians and several more, but all in all, it is indiscriminate. there are no borders for it to acknowledge, no place it can not go...it is something that should make the governments of the world unite, not separate as they are doing. My own country is an embarrassment in citing blame instead of organizing a world effort.
What happens after the virus is a world problem, of every magnitude. If you are not personally affected by a death of family or friends it has taken, it will likely change your life in some other way. Large and small businesses you are familiar with will be closed or changed, restaurants and theaters you went to may no longer exist. Your job may no longer exist.While "After the Virus" welcomes the day with a new clear dawn, the landscape is largely baron, It will take the resourcefulness and ingenuity of us as a people to make something of it again, and to again enjoy life as we knew it, before the virus.
Death, While Disintegrating, Contemplating the Synthesized
Theory of Reincarnation 2015
All the elements, all the matter of this universe and this world, came into existence once. Every molecule and atom came into existence at one time, at its beginning. Since then, no new matter has come into existence.*
In 2015, I painted the death-related oil Death, While Disintegrating, Contemplating the Synthesized Theory of Reincarnation. The title caused much confusion around my beliefs on reincarnation instead of its attempt as an explanation for the concept. The universe, and in particular our planet, make for an efficient recycling plant for these elements. The same elements, even the 60 percent of water that comprises our bodies, has existed since the beginning of time. Since that time, that same water has existed as oceans, lakes, rivers, plants, animals, and other humans. While it is easier to conceptualize with the water in your body, all the other minerals and elements that make up the human body have been through the same process. Those elements have been parts of mountains, deserts, plants, and animals. This is why my death painting uses a fractal to display the assimilation of the body into the ethereal, depicting the plethora of things that its next incarnation may bring.
So if you can stop to contemplate this simple truth, you can quickly come to know that you, or parts of you, have once been oceans, rain, forests, mountains and several other life forms, including stars. You can imagine that whales, sharks, and prehistoric amphibians of all types have survived and flourished in parts of what are now part of you. The carbon necessary to construct your lifeform has once been plants, animals, and creatures of all types. This is how my death painting is relevant to We Are Stardust, the third and last of my Virus-based paintings. Being made of the "stuff" of our universe, we are literally made of stardust. This is not a new age exaggeration, but a simple truth. A truth that connects each and every one of us not only to each other, but to the entire universe we live in.
*Other than a very few new elements that have been produced in labs on earth
"We Are Stardust" - In process, third and lst in Virus series 48"x32"
In the painting We Are Stardust, we return again to our two coronavirus-affected figures. Scars now covering their epidermis are deeper and more transfiguring than before. We find one figure lamenting the death caused by the pandemic, and the second celebrating life having survived it. It is important to note the use of muted colors in much of the figures to make them more relative to their surroundings, and in particular to the milky way and its massive numbers of stars that illuminate the night sky. We Are Stardust illuminates the fact that we are the same exact matter as the stars and everything we know and see. In addition, we grow not only as humans through experiences as we age, but through the atomic matter we acquire as parts of our being.
While the virus took the lives of many, devastated the life we had and the landscapes of our existence, it has also taught us valuable lessons. Lessons always there, but so often ignored with our busy and all too often self-centered lives. If anything, this pandemic should teach us that we do not know what the future brings, and that life and our loved ones are to be acknowledged and respected at all times. Staying home, isolated and alone, has been a time of despondence and reflection. It is a time where we find both the differences and the similarities to our fellow human beings. It is a time where we have a virus show us there are no borders, we are all human, and we all share the same fate to this pandemic as habitants of the planet. True that some areas are harder hit by others, and some suffer the consequences of the selfish power and capitalism found in today's politics, but these too are singled out to be shown for their ruthless disregard of life and humanity in this crisis.
Life must be regarded as the most precious commodity, to individuals, to communities, to nations, and above all economies and the selfish acts that are taking it by those in power in so many governments.
There is a saying most of us have heard, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" It is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception. This question scratches the surface of the deeper questions asked in the meaning of We Are Stardust. While acknowledging and respecting the passing of humans, due to the virus or any manner, the painting celebrates life. I pose a more direct question. Without life, or more accurately, without consciousness, does anything exist? Consider this carefully… without life - without a functioning brain - does anything, your family, your home, your country, planet or galaxy exist?
While the tree in the forest question concentrates only on the sense of hearing, the existence of everything we know relies solely on a functioning brain and all the senses. This thought, and the advent of the virus itself, teaches us how precious life is, and to every day appreciate everything around you. Everything you enjoy, every sight, sound and smell, everyone you love… to cherish them, and in the case of those who can receive that love, to show them. The virus has clearly shown we do not know or control what our future brings, and while it has devastated so much and so many, the simple fact that nothing is more precious than life is highlighted by a pandemic's existence.
We need to take this time to reassess ourselves, our hearts, and what we stand for. We should as humans be finding ways, through the grief and anger, to come out stronger and smarter. We need to give others the love they deserve, and to make the decisions to move this planet in the right direction. This includes working for better governments, respecting our global neighbors, and doing what we can to mitigate the disastrous changes to the climate we have initiated. Power and greed need to be addressed and all people given the right to live a life that is full of possibilities.
This is the insight I can give you as to what We Are Stardust means to me. I hope it gives you pause to consider, both the painting and your own insights and beliefs.