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Leonidas, King of the Dogs June 11, 2012

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Leonidas: Named after the great king of the Spartans elected to defend Greece from the combined armies of Xerxes at Thermopylae in 481BCE.

For you, inhabitants of wide-wayed Sparta,

Either your great and glorious city must be wasted by Persian men,

Or if not that, then the bound of Lacedaemon must mourn a dead king, from Heracles’ line.

The might of bulls or lions will not restrain him with opposing strength; for he has the might of Zeus.

I declare that he will not be restrained until he utterly tears apart one of these

-Oracle of Delphi

Leonidas’ stand with his 4-7000 (the 300) troops was the inspiration also for possibly the gayest painting ever made.

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Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David (1814)

Blade Runner:

I’ve seen things you “people”(my quotes) wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die.

-Ruger Hauer


Rutger Hauer’s gentle evocation of the memories, experiences, and passions that drive the short lives of androids mirrors our own transitory connection to time, memory, understanding and what remains. This is even more so for a LEONIDAS, a sentient non-human,  because his transit will be so brief, what he leaves so ethereal and what he takes with him, to “people”, unbelievable..

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A dog’s life is brief, his feelings, thoughts, if any, are hidden from us mortals.  According the Upanishads, horses (and possibly dogs) retain their memory of past lives. History for them may be an unbroken ribbon of tests of love and loyalty.

Like the sacrificial horse of the The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; LEONIDAS allows us to contemplate the trail of experience, memory and loss as the universe contained in the horse (dog) is continuously dismantled and reassembled.

Leonidas is a painting about a dog, not of a dog. It was built on a golden mean (GM) (1.618) grid and using enlarged photographs all the lines were coordinated to major and minor vertexes on the grid. I could have used a raster to vector conversion program and had it printed full size but to align the outlines with the GM Grid would have been inaccurate at best. Doing the conversion by hand enabled the accurate placement of the endpoints of each line and the radius and endpoints of each arc. This enabled the outline to be more fully connected to the structure of the painting. Otherwise it would be merely laid on top of the grid destroying the, figuratively, figure ground relationship. All the lines and shapes in the painting were actual strokes and fills from actual construction of the outline.


The Anabasis June 5, 2012

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Anabasis (Ἀνάβασις – Greek for “going up”)

Complex abstract painting on paper to commemorate Xenophon’s account of the failed conquest of Persia by the “10,000” in 401BCE.

Spurred on by the Cyrus the Younger, hungry for gain, the Greeks (mostly veterans, unemployed and under-employed, due to the temporary slowdown in Greek on Greek warfare) were promised riches and honor but instead found, betrayal, defeat and struggle for survival and freedom.

Their plans and hopes suddenly became irrelevant in the face of rapidly changing circumstances.

With their leaders betrayed and killed by treacherous Persians, they refused to lay down their arms; instead choosing to fight their way home. The story is a fascinating personal account of the Greeks organizing themselves, and mostly by consensus, figuring out how to get from Babylon to Greek colonies on the Black Sea.

A parable of the triumph of democratic order over chaos.

The horse is a copy of a Parthenon head by Phidias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phidias and could represent the triumph of competent decision and democratic order over anarchy. I was thinking of the tuna as representing the safety of the sea: “thálatta, thálatta” was the famous cry as the depleted but relieved army reached the mountains overlooking the Black Sea.


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