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Loren Munk
brent grant
1995, 14" x 20", oil on canvas


This painting arose out of a moment on The Riviera when Loren was reflecting on a Biblical proverb, “All life is but a vale (veil) of tears” and saw this topless woman sunning on top of a man and thought, “Well, not for him, not right now, at least.”

Actually I just found out that “vale of tears” is not exactly from the Bible.

Vale of tears (plural “vales of tears”)

1. (idiomatic) A symbolic “valley of tears”; meaning the world and the sorrows felt through life. Similar to the Old Testament Psalm 23's reference to the “valley of the shadow of death,” the phrase implies that sadness is part of the physical world (i.e., part of human experience).

Also that:

The expression “vale of tears” goes back to pious sentiments that consider life on earth to be a series of sorrows to be left behind when we go on to a better world in Heaven. It conjures up an image of a suffering traveler laboring through a valley (“vale”) of troubles and sorrow. “Veil of tears” is poetic sounding, but it’s a mistake.
                                            --Paul Brian, Common Errors in English

It makes perfect sense because, so often, one only sees the “vale of tears” through a “veil of tears.”

It’s a pretty funny painting for two lesbians to own who’ve just moved to Bed-Stuy. One of our friends here,—a community organizer and urban farmer who does not beat around the bush—said, somewhat sharply “What’s with that painting, Cathy?” and I said that Loren empathizes with/envies the black guy so I think it’s not racist; she seemed to reserve judgment for the moment.

I empathize with/envy the black guy too and the painting cheers me up. When I think life sucks and happen to glance at it, I have to also say, “Not always, not even for me; sometimes it’s a wonderful world.”

Loren paints a wide range of subjects, some of which maybe didn’t even seem like possible subjects before he painted them, like art historical connections between people and maps that show something that is happening right now: the huge explosion of artists.

  A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (MAP), 2007-08, 48" x 60", oil on linen

A funny thing about these maps is that theoretically (and much more easily) this could be a printed poster, but this and all of his works are heavily and meticulously painted in oil. It reminds me of something that Roger Shattuck said about Rousseau: that it was the absolute conviction with which he painted that made the paintings important.

Come to think of it, Loren’s subject matter does have some antecedent in Guiseppe Castiglione  and Giovanni Paolo Panini who painted views of the salon:

Vue du Grand Salon Carré, au Musée du Louvre, Salon de 1861 Modern Rome, 1647

I have a real fondness for another genre of work in his studio—the more pictorial canvases—
and I have my eye on this one:

  PAINTING MUST DIE, 2007-08, 26" x 16", oil on linen

Written on the painting:

Painting Must Die: With its privileged historic status, granted by a patriarchal bourgeoisie society, it must be identified as anachronistic, and removed from consideration by progressive humanists as a medium unworthy of democratic intellectual investigation.

This painting was exhibited at Sideshow Gallery and I asked Loren who the quote was from and he said, “Me.”

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