Title: The Dubliner: Portrait of James Joyce
Material: Oil on canvas
There is a certain resemblance between the mystery of the Mass and what I am trying to do … to give people a kind of intellectual or spiritual pleasure by converting the bread of everyday life into something that has a permanent artistic life of its own … for their mental, moral and spiritual uplift. – James Joyce
I sometimes read an annotated Finnegan’s Wake before I work, when I want to stretch my head and crack loose adhesions. I’ve tried alcohol but booze talks back and loses all judgment when it’s been drinking. Meditation is effective, but meditation plus dark chocolate-covered coffee beans is faster.
James Joyce wrote about the Catholic church with some criticism, but he was fully aware of its powerful draw and influence in Irish life, so he knew to hedge his bet. In his stream-of-consciousness narratives he captures perfectly the wandering mind of a wayward Christian hoping not to get caught, which I attempt to capture here, in the format and drab coloration of a classic Guinness pub poster. These posters are obscure, because if you’ve never been to an Irish pub, you may never have seen such a poster, or if you have been to an Irish pub, you may not remember seeing such a poster. They rarely see the light of day.
So here James Joyce sits in a confessional or two, fancying a vision of a pint of Guinness before him. His tie is tri-colored, first in Irish orange-white-green and then in English red-white-blue, in a reference to the two nation’s disfunctional relationship.
Sometimes you get what you pray for and sometimes you don’t.