All Paintings In This Series Are Acrylic On Panel
Before I was invited to display a full set of arcade paintings in California in the Spring of 2018, I was offered the chance to paint an entire series based around one of my favorite novels, Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", and jumped on it. The idea was put forward by repeat collector Fred Whitehead, who I'd met when he bought a piece from me at the first gallery show I ever did, "Rumor Mills" at the Jones Gallery of Kansas City Missouri in 2012. I did not need to study the novel, but I did reread, relisten and rewatch it countless times as I planned the series. I broke the book down into what I felt were the twelve most important scenes, and spent almost three weeks on pencil sketches for what would become the twelve paintings. It is with great honor that I present this series, in the same year it was created, at the very same Jones Gallery of downtown KC, on the evening of Friday, November 2nd. Thanks so much to David Jones and Fred Whitehead for believing in me, way back when, and giving me the chance to see this dream come true. The series can now be seen in 2019 From late to late September at the Muvlane Art Museum during posted gallery hours, typically 10AM-5PM Tuesday - Friday, and 1PM-4PM Saturdays, admission free.
I. Prelude: Once Upon A Time In The American Southwest, The Untold Story
My name is Mustapha Mond, ex-Western World Controller of Europe of the year A.F. 632. I created this twelve painting series on an island, where I was banished following the scandal known as the “lighthouse incident”.
The islanders call the year 2540 A.D. after the death of the religious figure of the former time scale. Back in civilization, A.F. stands for “After Ford” - homage to industrialist Henry Ford, who sponsored the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.
The story began when a colleague of mine named Thomas Grahm Bell took holiday on a native reservation in the American Southwest. To help avoid spiritual psychosis, he brought a colleague, but the two ran low on drug rations and got lost in the desert. The Indians found Thomas near death and incoherent, but helped get him back to civilization. The female, Linda Lisinko, depicted here, was never found, and presumed dead. It was only years later, the truth came out she’d not only survived, but had given birth to Thomas’ illegitimate child; one of the worst crimes to commit in present day society, for a number of reasons…
II. Human beings are grown; not born. They are genetically engineered based on the needs of society to be Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Epsilon, and wear respective colors. Alphas control, Betas and Gammas work in health and communication fields, Deltas and Epsilons do physical and menial labor.
III. Words pertaining to the “nuclear family” like “mother,” “father,” “heritage” and “love” are profanity. After solving overpopulation, bioengineering gradually created equal numbers of all ethnicities, ending racism. Physical disease was then eradicated, as was growing old after the age of thirty, until peaceful passing on around eighty.
IV. Plotting to thwart universal happiness is the worst crime. It was my duty to spot future criminals and recondition them. Incurables are sent to islands catered to their own perversions, and barred from contacting the mainland for life, even by satellite.
Un-fordly rumors surrounded the creation of Bernard Marx, an Alpha-Plus psychologist with a chip on his shoulder. Some say alcohol was accidentally introduced to the fetus; others say he was an illegitimate child, born in secrecy, but... if either scenario proved true, it might have prevented my advancement. I computo-erased Bernard’s early records, convinced they wouldn’t come back to haunt me...
I could not deny Mr. Marx was different though: physically shorter, mentally a genius, but socially intolerable. Bernard didn’t take prescriptions, educated himself for pleasure, enjoyed solitude, and showed off his deviant over-intelligence, especially to the lower castes. Worse, he refused to participate in high holy orgy ceremonies, ridiculed the feelies and sports plays, and seemed unresponsive to VPST. All his work orders contained heretical ideas, subliminal to most, but obvious to me. I tried to coach him, but my efforts were in vain. I knew the day might come when I’d have to surround him with saltwater.
V: The trouble began when I allowed Bernard to take a holiday to the same reservation where Linda Lisinko had been abandoned some thirty years ago. Mr. Marx was more problematic with his superiors than usual around this time, particularly, with the same exact Thomas Graham Bell who’d left her in the southwest. I’d hoped experiencing something out of the ordinary would get Bernard to fly right, and had no way of knowing the truth about what had transpired in the desert.
The deathly expression on Thomas’ face left no doubt this was the same Beta Minus he left for dead all those years ago. Far worse was the revelation of their offspring, John, who had Thomas’ same fair hair and eyes, and lack of common sense to call him “father.” The scandal went online so quickly, I couldn’t cover it up. The crowd’s mockery reached such heights I had to lead Thomas out the rear exit, while papparazzi snapped picture after picture.
He never made a single mistake as director his entire career, but was sentenced to a reeducation center in Iceland for life, with no possibility of return. I remember him talking of ghosts while he was escorted away, which I dismissed as nonsense. Thomas was given a similar job with similar pay and perks...but would never salvage his reputation. I had no choice but to promote Bernard to his job’s vacancy. John became an overnight celebrity, whether I liked it or not, and although my first impression of him wasn’t positive, I never intended to retaliate.
VII: The first order of the study was Bernard taking the new celebrity John, now dubbed “The Savage” on a tour of civilization. The media followed them, but John’s mother, Linda, cut no ice. She had wrinkled physically on the reservation without anti-aging drugs, and didn’t make good fodder.
John, on the other hand, was tall, dashing, peculiar in a non-threatening way, and somewhat charismatic, despite his idiosyncrasies. The general audience loved him, and laughed at his Shakespearean quotes. The tour made great television for members of all castes to enjoy, post-edited.
Most of the second half of the documentary had to be cut, unfortunately, as The Savage grew less pleased with our scientific advancements, and more distraught over their application. The caste system bothered John, as did the central hatcheries unit, the high holy orgy ceremonies, the synthetic foods, and the manipulation of all plant, animal and sea life. Thankfully the tour was not filmed live; for at some point after explaining Bokanovsky’s cloning process, the mandatory erotic play sessions for high schoolers, death appreciation classes, and the nature nausea reinforcement treatments, The Savage turned green in the face, and vomited.
VIII: It wasn’t long before the talk shows began speculating which girls The Savage was engaging with; the problem was, he wasn’t engaging with any. He was raised by the overprotective and smothering Linda, without the positive model of the state, and bought up by Indians to believe in monogamy, romance, and the rearing of children through natural insemination. He might have possibly even been a virgin. None of which could be mentioned to a studio audience.
But the cameras did catch him staring longingly for Lenina, perhaps because she was the first non-native girl he’d ever laid eyes on. Indeed, John is excited at the prospect of spending an evening with her, and she even more so with him. Bernard grows jealous of their chemistry, and bitter after John intentionally avoids his presentation of their tour, tarnishing Bernard’s reputation.
The date goes horrible for both Lenina and The Savage. John makes a scene at the Feelie Palace in protest of its “ignoble” engagement scenes, and subsequent tactile effects, after which, rumor has it Lenina made a sexual advance back at her place, and John responded by slandering and assaulting her. This was the first violent action charged to The Savage, and, by the time I heard of it, only one of many.
IX: John went raging out of Lenina’s apartment after a call from Linda’s nurse. He’d never been taught in civilization that without families, funerals were unnecessary, and hospitals also served as crematoriums.
X. There was footage after The Savage left Linda’s side that haunts me to this day. Tears down his face, John gazed upon medication time, and muttered to himself, in sarcastic despair “How beauteous man- kind is! O brave new world”‒ a line from my all-time favorite piece of smut: William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Second and third opinions from mechanical and human lip-readers both confirmed it was, indeed, that specific line.
XI: I summoned the three to my secret chamber, and showed them the sins humankind sacrificed after the 21st century population wars. Literature, philosophy, poetry, dogma, real science, and high art. I treated them more like friends than criminals, for a while . . . before I re-explained why such knowledge had to stay banned, in favor of lifetimes serving the lower castes. I reminded them, those who disagreed deserved to be sent to islands; but all three lawbreakers failed my test by arguing.
When the police arrived, Bernard went kicking and screaming . . . problem-child to the bitter end. Watson welcomed the change. He even re-quested an Antarctic climate, claiming it would make him more creative. I informed John I wanted to continue the experiment, to slowly cover it up, and asked for his help.... but he embarrassed me again by fleeing. It never mattered when Bernard challenged my authority, because he wasn’t a celebrity, and no one liked him. John’s stunts, on the other hand, were influential.
The Savage ran to an abandoned lighthouse near the remotest part of the mainland, where he could hunt and grow his own food. John hoped the masses would stay away as much as I did... but they didn’t. Hordes of Deltas left the factories to live in nature like The Savage. It was humiliating. I felt the only way to get the masses to stop taking John seriously was to make a joke out of him. But the only joke I wound up playing was a bad one, on myself, and unlike the Thomas Graham Bell scandal, no one laughed.
XII: I used my influence to have an acclaimed feelie director shoot a parody of John. We gassed The Savage with the highest doses he’d ever taken, so he lost the capacity to retain his convictions. John engaged with so many females the filmmakers lost count. Even Lenina finally got her turn. The motion picture would’ve been so in line with 26th century morality, it not only had potential to save my reputation, it could’ve been nominated Film of The Year.
Upon waking though, The Savage, remembering the drugs or orgies... or Lenina.... or his mother... for some reason hanged himself. John’s was the first suicide in so long, the media forgot the laws forbidding the report. It broke while we were laughing at footage, and I grew sick. I calculated the odds of retaining my position, when the police arrived to deport me. I’d preached against the supernatural my whole life, but never believed in it. Yet as I was led away, I saw ghosts, just as Thomas had described, as real to my eyes as the cinematographers, and I know they were more than just hallucinations.
I try to remember Helmholtz Watson, right before he went to the Falklands, and keep his same attitude. But I was happiest when I ruled the living...not creating artworks from afar... and I fear I will be forever miserable, like Bernard. At least the natives and exiles on the island enjoy my paintings. I can also read and discuss “The Tempest” openly. But unlike Prospero, my jailers are not people who betrayed me, and I won’t be embarking on any glorified karmic justice. My keeper is the ghost of an innocent young man I mistreated, whom I can never ask for for-giveness, and will haunt me from beyond the ocean’s horizon line until the day I die.