IMAGE: Eric Yahnker, Epiphany (The King Grabs Crotch), 2013, colored pencil on paper, 72 x 96 in. (182.9 x 243.8 cm)
"Epiphany (The King Grabs Crotch), is a direct riff on 17th century Flemish Baroque painter, Jacob Jordaens painting, The King Drinks, in which a room full of rowdy, randy revelers celebrate ‘Epiphany’ on the twelfth night after Christmas. One of the traditions during the feast of the Epiphany involves electing a ‘king’ - often randomly chosen by being the lucky guest to find a pre-placed bean in their slice of cake - who is then handed the reigns to appoint his royal court from the remaining guests: the queen, counsellor, cupbearer, carver, musician, jester, physician, etc. As the feast of the Epiphany is theoretically celebrated by peasants and princes alike, societal hierarchies had the potential to be symbolically, albeit ever-so-temporarily, flipped on their head. Fueled by copious amounts of alcohol, the celebration could also apparently turn from family-friendly to outright debauchery, as evidenced in several works Jordaens and few of his contemporaries made on the subject. With all this in mind, I felt it apropos to replace the ‘king’ from Jordaens original work with the recently, tragically deceased, self-proclaimed ‘King of Pop,’ Michael Jackson - captured here in presumably better times: donning a headset mic and shimmering gold plated military-style uniform, passionately bursting with song and violently thrusting into his signature crotch grab. It’s important to note the inscription carved into a decorative plank of wood hovering over the scene, which roughly translated from Flemish reads, ‘It’s good to be a guest where the drinks are free,’ or as Mel Brooks’ Louis XVI might have put it: ‘It’s good to be the King!’ Then again, perhaps not. In another nearly identical version of this painting, Jordaens makes one minor, yet very significant alteration, changing the overhead inscription to instead read: ‘Nothing seems more like a madman than a drunkard’."
Catch Eric Yahnker speak in Thursday’s Rogue Wave Artist Talk, 6:30 pm at L.A. Louver. Following the talk, we’ll open the floor for questions — so have some good ones ready : )