The tale begins with Judith, a biblical heroine who saved her people by seducing and beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes. Like Salome and Lucretia, Judith was a popular subject during the Renaissance and Baroque era, which delighted in erotic and violent scenes. Dozens of artists from Botticelli to Caravaggio to Klimt depicted this woman who summed up that indefatigable brew of virtue and sexuality, a holy strumpet.
It has always been one of my favorite themes. Yet to speak the truth, I do not care in the least about the actual characters of Judith and Holofernes. I do not draw in order to make versions of exhausted themes. It is my own story, and the head I cut is history itself. The perfect murder. Sex and violence, naturally. The mood of exotic mystery still hangs in the air, a heavy breath lingering against the sword. Warm dark blood dripping down her belly. Marvel at the strange beauty of a severed head, contained within a drawing, and held up to the light like a glass of water. The narrative is long over. This is what I can do in a drawing, unencumbered by the perceived reality of time and place. This is drawing as potential memory, a way of summoning up an event before it has occurred, that more primal memory, spirit, breath force, nerve impulses, incantation; memory that breaks down barriers and imperiously remakes our settled way of seeing. The memory of no time. This violence would be gracious, clear and cool. Magnificent.