oil on canvas 90 x 60cm
1996 was my first time driving through New Mexico, it was warm and desert like, low mountains and vast spaces. I had spent some time in Sante Fe and had taken the high road up to Taos , great picturesque valleys and grand vistas. The desert had been in bloom and it was truly spectacular, driving for hours as if in a trippy, dream-like state.
The American artist Georgia O'Keeffe had spent a lot of years in Santa Fe and had hand painted her desert landscapes and iconic great flowers and skulls there. Her work was to be found referenced everywhere I went. She is known as the mother of American Modernism and I loved her work , bold and beautiful, great cloths of gorgeous colour and form.
Years previously , I had found a large cattle skull on trip to Mexico and loved its bleached bone and twisting horns , its deep empty eye sockets. I thought I would do some paintings with it but instead it just hung for years from a nail in the studio in San Diego and then on a different one in the studio in Bray and ultimately an entirely new one in Carlow.
Then,- just like that - thirty years had passed and now Jade was looking at the dusty old skull on a rusty old nail in my dusty old studio . She really liked Georgia's work and had wanted to use some of these things in her work, large flowers, skulls , stripped-back backgrounds , floating elements. When she had all the components together it made sense to me, her referencing Georgia , the elements living again. i thought of the old Kodachrome colours , saturated with greys. I had been thinking of the 1930s and I had been thinking of New Mexico, but mostly I had been thinking of Georgia O'Keeffe , the mother of modernity