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Brian’s Paris Tribute

Back in November (I’m still trying to get caught up), Brian contacted me with this idea:

“I am thinking of a somewhat subtle homage to honor courage in the face of the recent events in Paris.
So I see a street scene with an outdoor cafe, in the late, late afternoon, done in color. The place is one of the sites that was attacked, but you would have to be in-the-know to know this. The cafe is off to the right, taking up about half of the background, with the rest of the street to the side, and the cafe sits on a corner, so you see the backdrop of the intersecting street in the background.
A gay male couple are there, they have just walked from behind the point of the viewer, past an outdoor table, and so they are hand in hand with their backs towards us, walking away.
But, the table was occupied by a rather unique individual, and just a few heartbeats after they walk past the table, they both turn towards one another and both are looking back at the person, caught at the moment of “nahhh… couldn’t be, could it?”
The person at the table is Oscar Wilde, who, after his incarceration for homosexual crimes in London, had indeed moved to Paris. He is dressed in classic Wilde garb and sitting with his chin resting on his hand as he was often depicted. A cup of coffee and a newspaper on the table.
The caption below the drawing, in a classic handwritten-diary style, is one of Wilde’s sayings. I could see any of these working well, but I kind of like the last one best:

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.’
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination.When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.”

Okay… Brian’s nothing if not precise.

I came up with this sketch:


I mentioned to Brian that, ‘it occurred to me while drawing this to make the background people…well…dead or ghostly.. or subtlety mutilated…or full-on Walking Dead zombie gross… but in a tasteful, subtle way that you don’t notice at first… but I think something along those lines would give more relevance to the last quote.’

He really liked the idea and this is how it turned out:


…and here is Brian’s title and write-up:

1900 Paris 2015

The hotel where Oscar Wilde lived (and died) in Paris,in 1900, with its Ram’s head over the entrance,is located about 3 Km from this Carillon Cafe,where some of the 2015 bombings took place.

This composition is meant to evoke a parallelism between the past ideological war on homosexuality, which was widespread in 1900, and the violence inflicted on others (Wilde is a patron-warrior; we see progress in that conflict over the past few years, as the couple walk openly), with the current ideological wars currently underway that result in other violence inflicted on other patron-warriors (our friends at the cafe die with a more equal opportunity victimization and in a way that is much less self-conscious than Wilde’s).
And yet, still, all of these wars rage on. There are still plenty of circles (“here” and “there”) where the open couple is seen as a flagrant offense against God and Nature, and merely one more mere representation and reason given for a more wholesale violence against Western and/or progressive values that are perceived as threats against some existing ideologies.
The two men are intentionally racially ambiguous.

Quite a bit of a change from, “can you draw me a sketch of a boxing cow?”