Patriarchal Hippocampus

Patriarchal Hippocampus

This painting is a portrait of my paternal lineage and is emblematic on several levels. My father is the figure in the lower right foreground (inside of the glass of milk) and my two grandfathers are on opposite ends of the blue couch. My flayed, decapitated skin hangs over a floating branch that turns into a snake at both ends (the branch meaning family tree, the snake a phallic reference).

The line of floating objects starts with the seahorse in the lower left foreground. The seahorse is wearing what looks like headphones but is really the hippocampus (the part of the brain that processes and retrieves emotion laden memories). Hippocampus is the Greek word for seahorse. Behind this is the cross section of a brain shows an brain stem emphasized to show its similar shape to a seahorse. The third object in line is a real horse which turns into a seahorse. The fourth is the first image of the seahorse infront of a brain, and finally a floating brainstem alone. Behind that is a double helix strand of DNA which is shaped like the letter "Y" for the Y chromosome which males pass on to the male children. The rock formation under the blue egg and part of the branch and its shadow also repeat the "Y" shape.

The green mass of land is Ireland which is shaped like the male symbol (the circle with an arrow pointing to the upper right). On the northern coast of Ireland (where my Irish ancestors are from) there is a place called Giant's Causeway which is thousand of hexagonal rock columns that form a bridge in the direction of Scotland; this hexagonal shape has been repeated around the DNA strand as the diagram of molecular structure usually attached to DNA models. The blue egg shape that is cracked open spills out a leg (the boot shape of Italy).

My house that I grew up in is in the upper left are with our front sidewalk turning into a river. The table on the lower right contains and is filled with femine shaped objects and the table forms the female symbol (a circle with an upsidedown cross below it).

The entire painting has a faux golden frame painted around it allowing the seahorse to "fly" out of the picture and also my fingers to drape over the front of the frame.