Halloween

Halloween, All Hallows E’en 2019

 

 

These works – all but one in the artist’s own collection – are from Reality Reassembled:  the Halloween Paintings of Peter Paone (American, born 1936)

 

at the Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania until November 3, 2019.

 

 

Peter Paone, a Philadelphian from birth, works in a figurative tradition rich in symbolism, colour and brushwork  connecting our every day and our imaginal lives.

 

The artist portrays Halloween as the occasion for the expression of our wished selves, the alternative selves we hold in check.

 

As is known, the blessedness of the day has its roots in pagan and Christian practices which relate – when the harvest is in – to the appreciation of the cycle of life and death of plants and of humans.

 

 

 

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Pumpkin discovered by the Philadelphian who posts poems on her front door only to be asked to increase the posting frequency

 

A simulacrum of death remains a focus at Halloween (death being a taboo subject).

This focus has been boosted by the overlapping celebration of the Mexican Day of the Dead which begins on Halloween.

 

 

 

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Marker of the Day of the Dead.  Philadelphia 2019

 

 

 

Death erupts in the myriad grinning skeletons on our streets at Halloween. 

 

 

 

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Halloween posing of a skeleton.  Philadelphia 2019

 

 

 

Peter Paone’s Halloween is in earnest.

 

His Merlin is resting.  The Celtic guardian wizard is a master of transformation.  He is resting now that, on Halloween, humans  are themselves transformed.

 

 

 

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Merlin, acrylic on panel, 2019, and detail

 

 

The artist notes that human consciousness presents sometimes as multiple personalities. In a painting called Trans,  which I was unable to reproduce, the artist made the same point about the trans-gender process.

 

 

 

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Multiple Personalities, 2017, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

Halloween, for Peter Paone, is the freedom from norms which ordinarily govern the expression of the self.  This is demonstrated in the lush colours and masks and costumes that are worn.

 

Demonstrated also by the psychological distance between characters in many of these tableaux.  The ego being a solitary actor.

 

The repetitive, hypnotic patterns in these images hold the Halloween delirium in check. Prominent among them is the circle and the checker/chess board pattern.

 

Because as approaching mad as Halloween may look, it has its roots deep in the mind’s rationalizing impulses towards wholeness and the order of our nature rather than the requirements of our societies. 

 

 

The melancholy of eyes and the hovering haze of some of these tableaux testify to the tentativeness of these transformations; 

and the understanding that the Halloween transformation lasts only a day and a night. 

 

 

Nightfall, wizards, crones,  candles, pumpkins, masks, ritual headwear, outsize buttons, horns, bats, and cats and their whiskers become enabling media.

 

Loveliest ribbons play a role for their functional, decorative and connecting properties.

 

For one day, the spirit of children become ruling enablers and guides.

 

For which service they are rewarded with sweet things for their native aptitude for the expression of our multiply segmented human consciousness. 

 

 

And then there is the multiplication of hands for their power to transmit, connect, shape, point. 

 

A counter-balance for psychological distance and an acknowledgment of the this-and-also-that, the nevertheless, notwithstanding, wherefore and therefore of our species.

 

 

The clown, meanwhile, has been abused. 

He has been punched.

And the cut-outs of his hat and clothing  and left ear indicate that he is receding into the background on Halloween. 

 

 

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As to why this abuse? 

Perhaps because the clown is the only Halloween creature who has license to remain with us throughout the year:

wearing Halloween costumes and demonstrating by the enormous range of his facial expressions and body movements

his mastery of the means of Halloween’s primary goal:  human transformation to the end of psychological integrity and its expression in our everyday lives.

 

 

 

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Maybe someone was jealous of him this day. 

Maybe he should have shown a reticence, a delicacy, a restraint on this day and let others have the field.  Like Merlin the Wise who is resting quietly.

 

The gods must have agreed because they have come for him and our surrounding dark matter is clearly eating the clown alive this Halloween.

 

 

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Punched Clown, 2018, acrylic on canvas; and detail 

 

 

 

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Powerful spotlights in the gallery have distorted some of the images shown below.

I love all this to death. An odd idiom but so Halloween. And true.

 

 

 

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The Party, 2015-2018, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Witch 2, 2018, acrylic on panel

 

 

 

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The Old Soldier, 2019, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

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The Mourner, 2019, acrylic on canvas and detail

 

 

 

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Night Out, 2018, acrylic on canvas and detail

 

 

 

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Mask I, 2018, acrylic on panel and detail

 

 

 

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Bat, 2015, acrylic on panel and detail

 

 

 

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Witch 3, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Cat Mask, 2018, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Showoffs, 2019, acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

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Mask 2, 2016, acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

 

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Trick or Treat Night, 2018, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Together, 2018, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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The Bat, the Fawn and the Mummy, 2018, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Candle, 2019, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Halloween Party, 2015, acrylic on panel, and detail.  Private collection

 

 

 

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Mother and Son, 2015, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Detail of Witch No, 1, 2018, acrylic on panel

 

 

 

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The Photograph, 2018, acrylic on panel, and detail

 

 

 

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Pavement in front of the Oscar Wilde Bookshop W. 27th Street, New York in October 2019.  Sent by a friend

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Halloween

  1. I know little about art, but I love this interpretation of Halloween
    “the occasion for the expression of our wished selves, the alternative selves we hold in check.”
    Very similar to the Freudian concept of the id be the ego/super ego.

    So well presented Sarah.

    1. Yes, it is similar. I think – but am not sure – that this is as much Jungian as Freudian. I think most of us is kept in check and under the radar and that the non-commercial aspects of Halloween are healthy!

      Thanks for touching base. Sarah

      1. I believe it could be either Jungian or Freudian. But either way, it’s that side of ourselves that is less conscious, hidden, that in some way, desires or craves expression. I like the idea that Halloween facilitates that. Halloween isn’t very widely celebrated where I live, and certainly wasn’t at all when I was a child. So I guess I find the concept kind of foreign and to learn different interpretations and ways of thinking about it is intriguing and enriching.

        I hope you are well, Sarah, I always admire the depth and breadth of knowledge and thought that goes into your posts. Rachel.

      2. I agree with you partially because I think that many people are conscious of some of the parts which they do not express usually for social reasons. Perhaps not all the parts., though, because some may be outright in taboo territory.

        I think that what seem to be epidemic levels of ‘mental’ illness and anger and depressive grief are connected, in part, to social control of our self-expressions.

        Thank you for your kind comments. I was raised to several selves because I have more than one culture and so am fortunate.

        Are you well yourself? Sarah

    1. Thank you, Louis.

      It is Anglo-American although November 1 is All Saints Day is celebrated in a more widespread fashion (religious). In England, the saints were done in by Henry VIII when he divorced himself from his wife and Catholicism and most people here don’t really know about that………

      Sarah

    1. He is in his 80’s, Chris; and he seems to have had a whole life’s work of the paintings of his imaginative life. It is gorgeous and comforting, also. Sarah

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