The Centaur's Shirt Painting by David Holcomb

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The artwork framed on the worktable, with paint tubes and brushes nearby to indicate scale.
A closeup detail image of the artwork.
A closeup detail image of the artwork.
A closeup detail image of the artwork.

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The Centaur's Shirt

David Holcomb

United States


Size: 16 W x 16 H x 0.3 in

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Art Description

Painting: Acrylic, Paper, Found Objects on Wood.

"The Centaur's Shirt", 2015 - acrylic, cut paper and metal button on fiberboard, 40 x 40 cm.

The title comes from the Greek myth describing the death of Herakles (Hercules), in which the beautiful but foolish wife of the hero accepts a gift for her unfaithful husband: a shirt washed in the blood of a dying centaur. She has been told that the gift will prevent Herakles from turning to other women, but it fulfils its promise by killing him. Dramatists and poets have used the myth for centuries as a lesson about the dangers of accepting deceptively simple solutions to complex problems.

Cut paper, including slices of book pages, are layered with acrylic in black, blue, yellow and white and sanded down, then a pattern of fine lines in thinned acrylic is used to create a fluid ribbon shape, threaded into and around the paper forms. A small gold and black metal button suggests the sun, or perhaps an eye.

The area of black in the lower left was built up by successive layers of red, blue-gray, orange, yellow, iron-oxide red, and dark gray, each layer scraped with a wire brush when dry, before receiving the next layer, to create a matte blue-black surface contrasting with the pale forms in the rest of the painting.

This picture is ready to hang; signed and dated both front and back, with the title on the back.


Artist Recognition

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