Charcoal on Mylar drafting film, 12 × 24″.
A surrealistic impression of John Lennon’s murder.
For the drawing, I’ve used a reference photo of the Charter Arms .38 revolver the police confiscated at the scene of the crime, tagged as shown in the photo. The butterflies, white lily, and stormy backdrop are from my own references I took on recent vacations. The flower placed inside the gun barrel is reminiscent of 1967’s “Flower Power,” photo by Bernard Norman, showing a long-haired antiwar protester shoving carnations into the gun barrels of MPs during an anti-Vietnam protest at the Pentagon. The caterpillar and butterflies are symbols of the earthly life, spirit, and transformation in the afterlife, and were often used by artist Salvador Dalí.
Lennon was murdered on December 10, 1980, shot four times in the back.
In 1979, Lennon’s assassin (nameless, as Yoko requested) began drinking heavily and developed an obsession for contemporary art. He bought numerous items of art, including a Salvador Dali, amassing a debt that was becoming way out of control. He began reading with an insatiable appetite, especially “The Catcher in The Rye.” He often interpreted lyrics as if they had been written especially for him. #9 Dream from Lennon’s “Walls & Bridges” album was a special song for John – some say the strange and haunting lyrics of #9 Dream are John’s premonition of his own death. According to John, the foreign-sounding phrase “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé.” doesn’t mean anything…it is just a phrase that came to him in a dream and he decided to base a song around it.
As I was drawing from the storm landscape reference photo, I noticed a vague dark spout along the horizon. There was a tornado touchdown this past July during the storm I had photographed while we were driving, skirting the eye of the storm near Galena, Illinois. I’m not sure if I had captured the funnel’s beginning, but I emphasized the funnel effect in my drawing. The sense of impending doom was strong that afternoon and it matches my unease in the current climate in the states.
My motivation for drawing this piece is the surge in gun sales since U.S. President Obama was elected, just one of the many issues in the current American landscape. “It’s simply paranoia,” said Thomas Mannard of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “And it’s irresponsible, from my point of view, to be touting how wonderful this is. More guns definitely equal more death.”
Mr. Lennon still inspires.
I have a dream…
The butterfly wings along the flower stem are after this painting by Salvador Dalí: