Art Explained: War Fair II

J. Antonio FARFAN War Fair II

2019/2020 Acrylic and oil on linen

Painting: 24 x 20 in. ( 60.96 x 50.8 cm) Frame: 25.5 x 21.5 in. (64.77 x 54.6 cm) There is no short of way of explaining a symbol as old as the vesica piscis. A brief explanation wouldn’t suffice to honor its importance throughout history. As a mathematical form the vesica piscis is the fusion of two circles with the same size radius where the perimeter of one is at the center of the other. In medieval Christian iconography it became the spiritual dwelling of Christ where the center vertical eye defines early representations of the female womb. Birth then becomes closely associated with the shape and lends itself to further extrapolation and meaning in this painting.

The original version of War Fair was painted in New York City in 2002 for a show the following year. The painting was later described in the book Cerca Trova as follows:

“ War Fair was hanging on the east wall, lit up to accentuate its color. The painting had the greenish color of night vision binoculars, giving the image of a soldier’s mirage where you have the intense bombing of a town slowly morphing into a night lit amusement park. The missiles become exploding fireworks and the city becomes a nightscape of ferris wheels and roller coasters. All the mirage of a soldier in distress. Anxious and scared he momentarily has an image of coming home.”

The synthesis is carried into the painting by the physical quality of the night vision goggles (NVG), the title, the vesica piscis shape and the psychological state of mind of the soldier. The title plays on the immaterial qualities of this painting. It is not a homophone because the word War Fair does not exist outside the title of this painting. It is a neologism that was formed by separating and recreating the word warfare to make better sense of both the soldier’s state of mind and the individual meaning of each circle. In War Fair as a word, the first half maintains the soldier’s connection to reality while the second part defines the subconscious which in merging define the psychological change that allows the soldier to function without fear. Considering this to be a spiritual manifestation occurring to one person on the battlefield, it is important to make reference to the shape as being one closely connected to the definition of vesica piscis as the medieval symbol for Christ. The fear and adrenaline caused by participating in war activates the soldiers need to bridge his thinking with something higher. In response he psychologically transcends into a spiritual vision opposing the harsh reality before him. The circles, each displaying a separate reality, merge in the physical form of the NVG to give an overlapping illusion of peace that only exists in the soldier's mind.

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