St Elmo’s Fires ; inks on Yupo

Before you read it:

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Fourteen Holy Helpers

The Auxiliary Saints

The Basilica of the Vierzehnheiligen 

This is too long but I waned you to understand where am I coming from metaphorically speaking

is not you see but what you want to see

Or

Mind travels or Covid Rococo Travels 

Fake travel idk about the title yet 

Transporting Europe 

The St Elmo Fires series explores the inner journeys created out of desperate need of my passion to travel. Stack at home during the Covid 19 pandemic I begun drawing and painting the composites of memories of previously visited places, a very specific ones. Travel was the invitation of the Rococo, an exciting pleasure I happen to enjoy since I can remember. The pilgrimage was such an important creative force in 18 century supported by the literary treasures such Thousand and One Arabian Nights, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe. 

3 years ago I became quite obsessed with pictorial imagery of the Basilica of the Vierzehnheiligen a glorious architectural structure in Bavaria, a Rococo church devoted to the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Growing up in Poland where pilgrims are still popular the idea of walking and praying at the same time in order to reach the holy place resonated  in my mind. The Rococo however was a strange stylistically and aesthetically clash of some kitschy seducing  richly gold, pink, turquoise and ebony white stucco organic forms. For many months I experienced some kind of perplexed need to paint and explore each of the Fourteen Holy Helpers,including some saints from early medieval times, some lost in the historical truthfulness of legendary, weird figures holding unidentified object or symbols of their martyrology, a saint for every occasion. I was familiar with some of them like St Blaze holding 2 candles a patron of the throat (my sickly childhood past), St Hubert a patron of hunters and St Catherine who would mysteriously community with St Joan of Arc. I had enormous fun researching the saint holding his own head, obviously the holy patron of headaches and St Emo (Erazumus) the holy patron of sailers holding a windlass that was a gruesome representation of his painful death as a martyr. The Vierzehnheiligen  Basilica for centuries was a place devoted to prayers against various plagues like Black Death. In my mind the place like that should have been dark and spookie like from the Bergnan’s Seventh Seal movie, goth, dark, and murky. The juxtaposition of the solemn subject matter with an overwhelming of joyful colors and dancing like lines was inspiring to me. And there was a lot of gold there, more than enough. 

Gold and Gold Rash Fever was the subject matter I’ve explored for at least last two years. 

I’ve created dozens of painting and drawings exploring the idea of the America’s ghost towns and the history behind them. The history rich in greed, sadness, quick fames, dramas, and unbelievable fortunes. As Oscar Wild once said: America is the only country that went from the barbarism to the decadence. 

Oscar Wilde visited USA in late 19 century, traveling from New York City to San Francisco he stopped to give a lecture  back in 1882 at the richest silver mining town Leadville, Colorado. He spoke at the Tabor Opera build and owned by the local magnate Horace Tabor whose life just like Wiled’s end it up pretty sadly. Oscar Wilde would stop by at the Silver Dollar Saloon as so did I in the summer of 2019. Growing up on cowboys and indians movies so called westerns I have a big passion and somewhat sentimental love for the Wild West. The Silver Dollar Saloon emitted everything I love to paint, victorian interior highlighted by the newest cut technology LED lights. 

The Silver Dollar Saloon paintings, I decided, had to be executed with the alcohol inks and gel pencils.

The Colorado trip took me to the picturesque St Elmo’s Ghost Town not far from Leadville but in the middle of nowhere. Driving there on the bumpy dusty rhode I couldn’t stop wondering how did the prospectors ever got to those places, how did they look for a gold in the middle of the country that wasn’t theirs to begin with. 

St Elmo wasn’t name for a St Elmo I knew from the Vierzehnheiligen Basilica but I didn’t care. The composites of the rich Rococo and austerie Ghost Town opened up the avalanche of pictures combining gold, richness, sickness, abandonment, weirdness, blue of the Colorado sky and Tiepolo’s  palette, emerald shades of spruce trees and lapis lazuli sculptures.

I saw St Elmo in St Elmo

His fires-lightings are blue, a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a sharp object in a strong eclectic field in the atmosphere

I saw St Elmo’s windlass at mines and bridges.

I saw St Elmo’s old outhouses as confession booths.

I saw cupids, angels, and puttis, little creatures up in a sky surrounded by the cobalt starry sky and ultramarine cloak of St Mary.

I saw St Elmo as pandemic ruined America day by day since March 12 when I got stuck at home teaching online.

I look at the empty abandoned homes of St Elmo and I see their glorious past in glimpse of victorian furnitures, old paintings depicting St Elmo by Grunewald and Poussin, I dream a dream of explorers, prospectors, pilgrim, migrants, seekers.

Like in Rococo I start with reality and end up with fantasy, the imaginary travel of Covid 19 times.

After all in rococo artists painted with their spirits and the best voyaging is done in mind.

When at night I go to sleep

Fourteen angels watch do keep.

Question: did you know?

Guggenheim museum founder got rich on Alaska gold diggings!

Trump’s grandfather made a fortune in saloon selling vodka to prospectors in Yukatan during a gold rash fever