This is potentially a new project I’m working on. It’s just for me, nobody else. This lady has been haunting me for a while. She practically demanded to come out on paper. This is just a feverish drawing I did in my sketchbook last night. She is inspired by the Caravaggio painting of Saint Sebastian. I don’t know why that particular image stands out so strongly in my head.
I was raised in a Catholic family. For my first communion, I was given a picture book of saints. I remember being in awe of the gorgeous classic paintings on the pages, but I was also somewhat horrified by several of these saints’ gruesome stories. A man being roasted alive on a spit, beheadings, torture, young women being forced to marry their fathers is a lot to take in for a eight-year-old. I wasn’t allowed to read the Goosebumps books, but I was encouraged to read these stories. It’s a weird dichotomy if you think about it. It created this morbid fascination for me. I loved the saint book.
One thing that has always disturbed me is how romanticized these stories were to us. They were always told to us in gruesome detail with a sense of awe. We were always asked how we could live our lives like this saint or that one. I always wondered in the back of my mind if we were all expected to experience these horrors sometime in our lives. There was always something alluring and at the same time repulsive about the idea. I think that’s what I wanted to portray. I like the idea, so I think I may play with it more. I’m intrigued by playing with the repulsive beauty. It’s been a long time since I’ve made art for myself.