The world’s most famous advocate for the right of terminal patients to elect physician-assisted suicide, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, was a fairly gifted painter as well. I’m no art expert; while his draftsmanship skills and imaginative brio appear to have been in fine shape, his sensibility was perhaps a touch blank, straightforwardly literal for my tastes. These pictures, in a way, are almost precisely what you’d imagine would fancy the much-maligned “Dr. Death,” who himself died in the summer of 2011 of thrombosis (once the disease had progressed past an advanced state, there were no artificial attempts to prolong his life).
There’s a resonance here…. if he was fond of Magritte, it wouldn’t stun me. Basically, you can divide the paintings into ones that seem entirely of a piece with his public persona, and the ones that don’t. The one of the 9th Amendment and the astonishing one with Adolf Hitler and the “New Seal of the Loyal Papal State of Michigan” certainly fall into the former category, as do the more metaphorical meditations on the terror of the human body. The musical clefs, and the two anonymous-feeling portraits are more unexpected. And then there’s Bach.
Gallerie Sparta in Los Angeles is “paying homage to a lesser known side of the famed activist” through the end of the month. All paintings are available for purchase, but apparently a few have sold already, so act fast!
In this video gallery featuring Kevorian’s paintings, the flute and organ music are likewise performed by “Dr. Death.” Yes, he was a jazz musician, too!