Behind the Art: Gravity Smiles

When most folks think of gravity, they usually consider in light of scientific or physical aspects of our world.

After all, if there were no gravity, there’d be no human race…we would have floated out to space before we even left the oceans, assuming they could exist without the “spatial glue” that keeps us on the planet.

But applied to pop culture, gravity has a second context. Poets and musicians often use it as a metaphor for the tendency of some of us to keep being pulled back, often to a life we’d like to leave behind. It’s their twist on the phrase, “the gravity of the situation.”

I was thinking of this nearly 20 years ago when I wrote the tune Gravity’s Smile. It was all about being set free and it was a reaction to punk icon, poet and heroin addict Jim Carroll’s song “Wicked Gravity.” Here are some of Jim’s lyrics:

You know the stars in the night
They're like the holes in the cave
Like the ceiling of a bombed-out church
But gravity blocks my screams
It's like an enemy's dreams
My guardians quit
They quit before they started their search”

For the painting, I changed the title to be Gravity Smiles to make it sound much more active, like a being making a conscious decision. It’s part of my Circular Logic series, and I’m going for a much more upbeat feeling — the sense of being released.

And much of this series is a bit of homage to mid-century art and the sense of balance and relaxation the viewer feels. The series of geometric abstractions is designed to evoke an otherworldly sense because we have been transported to a universe outside our own.

Gravity Smiles is a classic example of just what I’m talking about. It features a soothing background in my custom teal. But we are clearly not on Earth.

You get that sense immediately upon seeing the giant circular figure moving up from the bottom of the canvas. That orb has two small circles that could be moons, one is passing by and the other is just outside the big circle.

We then see several figures that could be satellites or other communications devices in outer space. The one in the upper right reminds me of an abstract character, some sort of being that is looking down on all this, possibly amused. The character in the upper left to me seems to be smiling.

Between those two is what I call the “Z Figure.” I was going for a sense of an hour glass but made it much sharper and more angular. I also put the cream vertical line in the center with two Ls to give us the sense of communication with the giant orb and the world beyond.

I do hope you like Gravity Smiles. I’ve enjoyed sharing the story behind it with you and look forward to giving you more details in the near future about other paintings in the Circular Logic series.