153, 2020-03, SACRIFICIVM (Potaliya Sutta), oil on linen, 60 x 90″ (152 x 228cm) (detail)

Begun as an altarpiece for a Shrine of Sacrifice, SACRIFICIVM (Potaliya Sutta) originally featured a protagonist blacksmith in a Map Room, working at forge, bringing a hammer down onto her own second head. This is not only Nietzsche’s “philosophy with a hammer, to ring out false idols”, but to identify the nature of Sacrifice as being the transmutation of one raw material into a higher-order material. The painting was technically unsatisfactory, so it was stored for some months, until an activist painting event in Portland called “Painting to Save the Trees”, where I took the piece to an en plein air location where stood endangered old trees— the protagonist was wiped away, painted over and replaced by a ghostily superimposed tree portrait, painted from life.

This outcome too was unsatisfactory, so this was all also scrubbed from the canvas. Finally the protagonist was replaced with a subject’s meditation as “lust abatement ritual”, the abnegation lesson known as the Potaliya Sutta.