Leviathan

Out of the belly of the whale
At midlife comes
A man half alive
Like Schrödinger’s Cat
The future is untold
Anything can happen
And will
Jonah sank and prayed
But saved the village
Out of the vulva split of the phallus
The union of opposites
Hope is born out of frustration
And The World spins a thousand miles an hour

I know that there are horrible things that happen in this world. My attempt to
make paintings is in no way an attempt to cover up or hide the horror. There is, though, a
leaning toward a kind of beauty, and anyone with eyes to see and the connective tissue to
comprehend should be able to distinguish between what is an opiate and what is not. I
have no intention of defending my work, it would be like trying to defend the heavens—
there is no point to it. As Popeye (or was it God?) said, “I am what I am.”
All we want is some assurance of meaning. Religion once provided it, and for
awhile science did… I’d like to think that art does or can. There is bad science and bad
religion and there is bad art. Some adherents will abhor the suggestion that what they hold
fast to is crooked… as scary as the thought may be and as open to ridicule as it makes me—I
just want to be honest and clear. A painting like Leviathan is not trying to prod the viewer
or create an obtuse piece of visual art or illustrate some archaic text—it is instead an attempt
to find an appropriate visual metaphor for where I am in my life. It represents a highly
personal inner/outer journey.

–Bo Bartlett’s Sketchbook, April 2000