Artist of the Day: Joe Forkan

The Lebowski Cycle

The Lebowski Cycle is a series of paintings and drawings exploring the idea of layered narrative, using masterpieces of European art and the 1998 Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski as a starting point.

The series is the result of a longstanding interest in narrative painting, particularly paintings from the Baroque and Neoclassical eras: complex figurative works that depict grand story arcs, and compress a multitude of thoughts, ideas and emotions into a single image. To me, the range of human interaction and conflict, formal qualities, and modes of depiction in that work is as interesting as the specific stories.

I wanted to explore these ideas, but was looking for a way to mitigate the grand seriousness that historical and religious paintings often contain. I started thinking about The Big Lebowski, (a favorite film, obviously) trying to imagine how the characters, humor and preposterous story arc of the film might be enlisted to explore multiple points of view, moods, and intentions if combined with themes and titles from well-known works of European art.

The combination led to paintings that reference film, art history, and contemporary art, from sources that inform, overlap and possibly even contradict each other, all run back through the imprecise language of painting.