a very still life


A man in a coma lies on his back, with his bare, wrinkly feet sticking out of the bedcovers as he slides head first into the dark, gaping mouth of a blindingly white skeleton. On another canvas, a man reduced to raw sinews and bones is engulfed by flames, his eyes turned heavenward like Jesus on the cross. In a third, a kneeling man has had his brain and his spinal chord removed; they hang suspended by chains near him. Half his body has turned to limestone: his healthy right hand holds his shattered, dismembered left. His face — like the viewer’s — wears a shocked grimace. The paintings are the work of none other than Jack Kevorkian, the late Armenian-American pathologist, philosopher, assistedsuicide advocate, and convicted felon otherwise known as Dr. Death. They are strikingly well executed. Unlike the works of other improbable painters — Adolf Hitler’s multicolored bouquets and elegant nudes or Winston Churchill’s pastoral sceneries — Kevorkian’s canvases are markedly obvious and gruesomely, almost risibly, literal. And the man in the coma, the man on fire, and the man with the brains by his side look a lot like the auteur himself.

more from Anna Della Subin at Bidoun here.