The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

The Lebowski Cycle by Joe Forkan

May 28 – September 25, 2016

The Lebowski Cycle is a series of paintings and drawings exploring layered narratives, using masterpieces of European art and the 1998 Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski as a starting point.  The series is the result of a longstanding interest in narrative painting, particularly paintings from the Baroque and Neoclassical eras: complex figurative works that depict grand story arcs, and compress a multitude of thoughts, ideas and emotions into a singular image. I found the range of human interaction and conflict, formal qualities, and modes of depiction in that work as interesting as the specific stories.

I wanted to explore these ideas, but looked for a way to mitigate the grand seriousness that historical and religious paintings often contain. I started thinking about The Big Lebowski, (a favorite film, obviously) trying to imagine how the characters, humor and preposterous story arc of the film might be enlisted to explore multiple points of view, moods, and intentions if combined with themes and titles from well-known works of European art.

The combination led to hybrid images that reference art history, film, and contemporary art, from sources that inform, overlap and may even contradict each other, all run back through the imprecise language of painting.

– Joe Forkan


Please join us for an opening reception on June 2, and an artist’s talk on September 15!