Nicholas Baxter

Blog posts tagged “Denial Vanitas”

National Juried Trompe l’oeil Exhibition

I’m honored to have two paintings on display at the John F. Peto Museum in Island Heights, NJ as part of their national juried show, described on their website:

“The John F. Peto Studio Museum invites artists working in the trompe l’oeil style to participate in its National Juried Show of Contemporary Trompe l’oeil. The purpose of this exhibition is to showcase contemporary art work that ‘fools the eye’ and demonstrates the innovative ways in which artists continue to express themselves through trompe l’oeil.”

Trompe L'oeil Poster

I’m glad they appreciated my contemporary and edgy take on the classic trompe l’oeil look, as I attempt to merge the traditional and modern into one presentation. The pieces chosen for the exhibit:

"Denial Vanitas", oil on panel, 11 x 14in, 2012

“Denial Vanitas”, oil on panel, 11 x 14in, 2012

"Sacrificial", oil on panel, 12 x 12in, 2012

“Sacrificial”, oil on panel, 12 x 12in, 2012



In between paintings of my ongoing surgical theme (The Apostasy), I’ve been searching for little sparks of inspiration for my next series of paintings. Attempting new subject matter and freeing myself from the confines of a very specific painting process are two strategies I often employ for a creative jumpstart.

So, last month I finished another experimental painting involving a splatter process and a strange juxtaposition of subject matter. I wanted to revisit what I’d tried in my recent still life Denial Vanitas with that splatter technique, and get even looser with it. As the painting came together over a few weeks, it increasingly reminded me of an older piece completed in much the same way, and with a similar aesthetic, called Comfort.

Layer 1: multi-colored splatter.

Splatter detail.

Layer 2: blocking in and establishing form.

Block-in detail.

Adding the final shadow glazes.

More of the final glaze layer during application.

“Passion”, oil on panel, 16in x 9in, 2012

“Passion” (detail)


Influences 1

“Denial Vanitas” Redux

You know that thing that happens when you stare at a single word for too long, and the letters start to separate themselves, become individual symbols, and your brain starts to mistakenly think you’ve misspelled the word?  The original form and meaning of the word dissolve into the existential void and our primal phenomenological sensing ability comes back to the forefront, from the recesses of our “reptile brain.” (Comedian Chris Farley’s hilarious take on this concept from the incredible movie Black Sheep featuring the word “roads…rooooads…rowads…rroowwads” comes to mind…)

Well, um, anyway. That happened. When I was composing my last blog entry about my new painting, I kept staring at the words “Denial Vanitas,” checking for misspellings before going live with the post, and this psychedelic subconscious shift took place:

Denial Vanitas

Daniel Vanitas

Daniel Vitalis

I’m a huge Daniel Vitalis fan so this is not nearly as surprising as it is amusing. Just thought I’d share.

“Re-wild yourself.”

And while I’m at it, I should share another amusing corollary: there’s an excellent documentary about the death-denial work of Ernest Becker (mentioned in the previous post) called Flight From Death that was envisioned and co-produced by a longtime acquaintance of mine, Greg Bennick.

Painting: the quest for immortality.

I’m also a huge Greg Bennick fan.  But I originally know him from his long run as vocalist for the seminal hardcore/punk band Trial–one of the most inspiring hardcore bands ever. Here’s why, some sample lyrics:

In The Balance

while i choke strangled by the hands of time
my life slowly slips away
the dollars i save aren’t worth the days i’d spend
with images of freedom as lies in my head
the hand that feeds will always bleed me dry
though these hours, these minutes, these moments, are mine
no one else will guide the way
break the silence before it breaks us…
down to a point from where there’s no escape
where regret destroys whatever life remains
and you, when you’ve told yourself a lie
the path of least resistance destroys you in time
is it heresy to want to live today? that’s not asking too much
so many are barely getting by, and starving in the streets
while in denial of death, yet still afraid to be free
we grovel beneath the pantheon of security
assured as we sell our dreams to buy our pain
that “the meek shall inherit” when only the strong will reign
all life hangs in the balance, i won’t wait until it drops
i can’t wait, they might not have another day
i have to live, i might not have even one more day

Live in Chicago. I am buried somewhere in that pile of humans.

I find it interesting how my influences–both personal and artistic–show up in everything I create. So maybe this is all more proof that everything is connected? There are no coincidences.