Miserere

The idea for this came from a huge theatre poster I saw when I lived in Australia some time between 1994 and 1997 (I think it was winter and it was hanging in a Mosman movie theatre stairwell, that’s all I remember). It was the size of an entire wall, probably 8 feet wide by about 12 feet long. I can’t remember the title, but it was black and white and 80% of the poster was the face of this forlorn mime /clown. Looking down and slightly to the side, crestfallen. I have spent hours upon hours on the internet trying to find it (I wanted to buy it, but how do you find something you don’t know the name of), without any success. So, I decided to just paint something that evoked the same feeling. This painting took about 5 or 6 years to evolve, and I still am not satisfied that I have captured exactly what I want. Luckily, Fiona and Andy loved this one, it so I gave it to them.

The title comes from the song of the same name from The Mission soundtrack (and actual definition not lost on me either, well known in many Catholic ceremonial functions, at the Burial of the Dead, obtaining divine mercy for the sick, and used in other religions such as the Jewish Day of Atonement). Anyway, it’s more to do with emotions evoked from the song that the religious attributes. I’d known all along that would be my title. I just couldn’t find the image I wanted. Several years went by when I happened to flip by the “Constant Craving” video by k.d. lang on TV, and remembered how much I loved that video, as well as how much I was bothered by the imagery. I thank Poltergeist for the reason I don’t like clowns… but it’s different when it’s a sad clown / mime. Sad clowns I am okay with (well, still bothered by them, but in a sympathetic way – not in a way they’re gonna drag me under the bed and strangle me to death). Anyway, there was an image and emotion in that video I thought I could use. Then as I was ready to paint the Tragically Hip CD In Violet Light came out, and I fell in love with the song “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken.” It was also translated well into French (as I had other phrases I was going to use that didn’t translate so well). So I stuck that in there as well.

I made up all the names on the poster. Gabriel Godard, for those who don’t know me well enough or couldn’t guess, is a homage to Peter Gabriel (Godard meaning “God Like”).

There will be another poster like this some time in the future. I have been mulling over ideas the past few years and have come up with some different images. But still, not there quite yet and at present I am slowly digesting the idea of where I want to take it next. Give me a few more years…


Miserere / October 2002 / Calgary, Alberta