On January 26, 2018 was the opening reception for Stephen Warde Anderson: Attention to Detail, an exhibition at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N.Milwaukee Ave.,Chicago IL. The show features more than three dozen samples of my early, tempera/gouache paintings (1980s and 90s) borrowed from Chicago area collections. It was curated by Mike Noland and Keith Sadler. Mike, a superb artist from Woodstock IL, is a long-time friend, as is Keith, who possesses the largest collection of my work. They did a great job: I was very pleased with the installation and how my work was presented. (Many of the pieces I have not seen for 25 years or more)! During the reception I was able give a talk about my work to a surprisingly large audience. The show will be up until May 13th. Here are some installation shots and images of a few of the paintings in the show.
Alien Zoo 20 x 24 Inches, Acrylic on Illustration Board on Panel, 2016
I have a considerable body of work featuring the familiar gray aliens, but in this painting I have created a new race of aliens. These are the inhabitants of the earth-like planet of Azura. The Azurites are fairly human-like, but with somewhat different noses, no eyebrows, hair that grows out to the side of their head, black eyes, and, most distinctively, blue complexions. The Azurites are devoted to studying the life forms throughout the galaxy and have zoos to house "alien" specimens. Depicted is the exhibit of earth creatures, a family of homo sapiens. The family, collected from earth, were not too unhappy to leave their planet, are quite content in their compound, and do not miss the outside world provided that they have access to all the devices, TVs, cellphones, tablets they are accustomed to and are given plenty of junk food to eat. The Azurites look in upon them with curiosity, disapproval, and amusement.
At a very early age I became interested in space, space travel, flying saucers, and so forth, initially inspired, I imagine, by my childhood affection for a horrendously bad TV show "Flash Gordon," which looked like it was made in someone's basement, a basement in Germany actually, using actors dragged in off the street. (I was too young for "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger," a current favorite of mine that was really good early TV.) I have found more recent inspiration in other space operas that I like: those American rocket-to-Mars flicks from the '50s, Italian space movies from the mid '60's, Space:1999, the firstseason, Buck Rogers, also the first season, and the obscure but delightful Space Maidens. -- sorry not a Trekkie or a Star Wars fan.)
As an artist I have done from time to time some space-themed paintings. Lately I have embarked on a series of spacescapes, scenes of outer space with planets and moons, comets and spaceships and also landscapes of alien planets. They are totally out of the imagination, which I love, and can be executed without a great expenditure of time. Here are the ones I've done so far.
Crash on a Volcanic Planet, Meteor Strike, Planet of the Mushrooms, Rising of a Moon 16 x 20 inches, acrylic on illustration board on panel, 2015
Saucer Convoy, Zapping an Asteroid 11 x 14 inches, acrylic on illustration board on panel, 2015
Raising of Lazarus 18 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Illustration Board on Panel, 2015
Jesus Walks on Water 18 x 24 inches, Acrylic on Illustration Board on Panel, 2015
While I have been translating the Old Testament (and have published volume one of The Anderson Revisionist Bible which includes Genesis and Exodus), I have also been working on the New Testament as well (and have published The Gospel of John). Of course this has inspired me to do some Jesus pictures as well as Moses pictures. The first two of these are shown above.
In Raising of Lazarus we have Jesus approaching the tomb of Lazarus and calling him from the grave, after the stone has been rolled away from the cave/tomb. Lazarus staggers to his feet, still wrapped up in linen grave clothes. At Jesus' side are Lazarus' sisters Mary and Martha. The many mourners who are witnessing the event are in the the background, but not painted for sake of keeping the composition simple and preserving the dramatic impact. Most paintings depicting of this incident do not conform at all to the sole and somewhat spare account of this miraculous event that is related in the Gospel of John. I have tried to be as faithful as I could to John. We know nothing of Jesus' appearance save that he looked and dressed as an ordinary person who did not stand out in a crowd. As a first century Galilean and Judaic rabbi, he would have had a simple beard and hair that might be a little longish by modern standards, but most definitely not shoulder lengthened. It's a fair bet he had brown eyes and black or dark brown hair.
In Jesus Walks on Water some of the apostles are crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat at night, during a storm when they see Jesus walking on the water. I assume Jesus would have taken off his sandals when he made his watery trek. A stiff breeze is blowing his robe. Simon Peter is the middle figure in the boat. In the Gospels of Mark and John the apostles see Jesus walking on water and bring him on board the boat. Jesus calms their fears and the boat safely reaches the shore. In Matthew, written after Mark, Peter walks on water as well, until he loses faith, sinks, and must be saved by Jesus. (This seems like an embellishment of the story intended to give it a moral.) The boat painted is intended to be similar to a 1st-century vessel recently unearthed in the Sea of Galilee and named the "Jesus Boat." I tried to convey the appearance of rain, but not the sense of darkness, which would obscure the figures too much and make the scene too hard to read.
My latest historical portrait is of the ill-fated but fascinating Lady Jane Grey, who, during nine days in July of 1553, was Queen of England. She was the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister and when Henry VIII's fifteen-year-old son Edward was dying, he appointed her his successor (passing over his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth and Jane's mother). This was probably at the connivance of John Dudley, the Earl of Warwick, who ruled England during the last part of young Edward's reign and had married his son Guildford Dudley to Lady Jane Grey. Even at age sixteen, Jane, very strictly brought up, had gained a reputation as a scholar, knowing not only Latin and Greek, but Italian and Hebrew. While she was undoubtedly the tool of others, the fact that she refused to allow her husband to call himself King suggests that she had a mind of her own. Her reign, though promising, was very brief. The ruling council that had endorsed her quickly changed its mind and backed Mary who was proclaimed queen and consolidated her power within days. Lady Jane Grey and those who had supported her were imprisoned and later executed. The Catholic Mary, who is infamous as "Bloody Mary," was, in fact, willing to allow her cousin Jane to live, but felt compelled to seek her death when a rebellion was hatched in her name. Poor Jane was barely seventeen when she faced the headsman's axe, which she did with considerable aplomb. Jane's brother-in-law Robert Dudley would achieve prominence as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth and her younger sister Catherine would be regarded for a time as Elizabeth's heir.
No definite portrait of her exists, although there is a painting or two and a miniature that some experts believe may be of her. Even physical descriptions of her are of uncertain authenticity. I have referenced one of the probable portraits, but have used my imagine in depicting her. Her right hand is upon a volume of Plato and her left tentatively reaching for the royal orb. Her clothes are shown as too large and ill-fitting, as was the role history chose for her. In the background is the Tower of London.
Lady Jane Grey was the grand niece of my 11th great-grandmother Lady Cecil Grey, who also married a Dudley, the 3rd Baron, (whose debts allowed his cousin, the Earl of Warwick, to appropriate Dudley Castle and render the family homeless). In other words, she was a second cousin of Captain Roger Dudley, who was the father of my 8th great-grandfather, Thomas Dudley, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
As a fan of Joan of Arc and Joan of Arc movies, I have painted her many times, although the first was not done until 2000, a sepia-tone portrait of Rene Marie Falconetti from the silent masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc directed in France by the great Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer in 1928. I've seen the film 70 times! I thought I'd try redoing that portrait, making it wide instead of tall in order to put in some background and context. Below are images of the two pictures. Also, I have uploaded images of a very ambitious hinged triptych I did of Joan of Arc (Jehanne, to be accurate) in 2002. She is portrayed in three aspects of her persona. The frame, which I made myself, was a huge project in itself. And, in 2005, I did a portrait of Leelee Sobieski from the more recent film about Joan of Arc. I'm afraid I stole the composition from the DVD cover, but it turned out very well, I think. Perhaps I will eventually get around to doing Ingrid Bergman and Jean Seberg.
Falconetti from La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, monochromatic acrylic, 12 x 16 inches, 2015
Falconetti as Joan of Arc, monochromatic gouache, 16 x 12 inches, 2000
Jehanne la Pucelle Triptych, acrylic, 2002:
Jehanne the Visionary, 32 x 16 inches
Jeanne the Warrior, 32 x 36 inches
Jehanne the Martyr, 32 x 15 inches
Leelee Sobieski as Joan of Arc, acrylic, 24 x 20 inches, 2005
Eve and the Serpent 28 x 24 inches, tempera on shade cloth on hardboard, 1994
Garden of Eden 1 23 x 28 gouache on hardboard, 1995 Garden of Eden 2 (sepia) 16 x 24 inches, monochromatic gouache on hardboard, 1995 Eve and the Serpent 2 18 x 24 inches, acrylic on museum board on panel, 2009
The Temptation of Eve 18 x 24, acrylic on illustration board on panel, 2014
Eve, the serpent, and the apple is the first and one of the best stories in the Bible. I have been inspired by it many times and have interpreted it variously. My most recent painting The Temptation of Eve departs from the traditional imagery. I have transformed the tempting snake into a reptilian humanoid. This gives the story more credibility and makes it possibly something more than a fairy tale. The snake is intelligent, clever even, and it talks to Eve, apparently man-to-man. This means that the snake is not really a snake as we know it, but a reptile with human-like qualities. There are many ancient myths concerning reptilian beings, many of them approaching human form. They are always intelligent, sometimes bringers of wisdom and enlightenment, sometimes more sinister, even inimical to man. Moreover, intriguingly, there have been many recent sightings of humanoid extraterrestrials who manifest a decidedly reptilian appearance. So perhaps the reptilian depicted here has a resemblance to something real. If the story in Genesis is a memory of a genetic experiment and Jehovah was an extraterrestrial human, a scientist rather than a god, who created modern man (in his own image and genetically compatible with himself), then the snake, the reptilian might have been a member of a different race of extraterrestrials. And I guess the reptilian royally messed up Jehovah's experiment!