The Modern Eden Gallery Brings “Fiction” Alive

0 Comments 24 June 2013

Showcase on the “Fiction” exhibition at the Modern Eden Gallery.


By Daniel Barron


“To me fiction is akin to painting, and I often find artistic inspiration in the personas and exploits of expertly crafted characters, both protagonist and antagonist.”

So states curator Bradley Platz in the press release for “Fiction,” a new exhibition at San Francisco’s Modern Eden Gallery (June 22-July 13).  Platz is one of twenty-eight artists bringing artistic reimaginings of classic and contemporary literature.  The unique visions of these talents make the stories and characters come alive on the canvas in the way they continue to on the page.


The artists weigh in on their work and why they chose their subjects…



 The Picture of Dorian GrayDorian Gray by Bradley Platz

For my piece I decided to paint a portrait of Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. This book is a classic and one I have read many times. Besides the character’s wonderful and elaborate discourse on the nature of art, morals and beauty it is, at the core, a story about a painted portrait and it’s decomposing effect on the character of Dorian Gray. It’s been very interesting to interpret such a character, who through the course of the book, transforms from someone pure and innocent into such an evil hedonist. The most interesting moments as a reader, and the moments I tried to capture with the painting, are the character’s innocent first transgressions and his shy first steps into a life without “ethical sympathies.”

As Oscar Wilde put it: “No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.”

And perhaps, more appropriately: “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion.”



Crime and Punishment

Jaxon Northon painting

I picked Rodion Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment because I thought it would be fun and challenging to take a crack at painting someone who was struggling with holding onto their sanity. Plus I’ve been looking for an excuse to use my friend Tillman Frick as a model. I’ve always felt he has that “Russian student/axe murdering maniac” look about him.



Chrystal Chan painting

I chose to do a piece based on the book Coraline because it’s about another dimension that runs parallel to Coraline’s reality.  This painting shows her holding a key to a secret door, ready to find out what’s behind it.  It’s a concept that strongly connects to my own work, as I feel the spiritual dimension co-exists with the physical.




Siddhartha by Akira Beard

I chose Siddhartha because though fictional, it is relative to the nature of reality itself which is where I always come from in the intent of anything I create/express. In this case, Siddhartha is based on an individual’s story of true liberation, that is freedom from the suffering caused by one’s own mind that anyone in the world perhaps can relate to. It is similar to the story of the Buddha himself, who makes a cameo in the book. The buddha is symbolic of “enlightenment,” that is freedom from self-created suffering attained thru awareness of the nature of the mind. The text surrounding the image is an excerpt where Siddhartha, the main character, sees the unity of all things and surrenders to it. He recognizes this liberation and comes into his own enlightenment. I felt it to be a powerful part in the book, and my hope is to pay heed and perhaps add to its magnitude in reaching others to discover their own potential to be truly liberated thru the realization of the nature of their own mind.



Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Brianna Angelaks painting

At first I had a bit of a difficult time deciding on my subject for the show. I just graduated from college with a Bachelor’s in English (and a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts), so I had quite the library of fictional characters to choose from! Once Alice came to mind, I couldn’t get her out of my head. Fictional literature exists so the reader can enter an entirely different world from her own, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll completely embodies that entire idea. The surreal world of Wonderland just had so many artistic opportunities and choices for a painting as well. When reading the book, the reader can’t help but imagine a spectrum of color. Alice completely loses herself to Wonderland which frequently happens to myself when I’m in the middle of reading a book or working on a painting. I can easily relate to Alice and her curiosity to continue through an unknown world. I think most people have the same feeling when reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland which is why it has become a classic children’s book which continues to attract older audiences as well.


The Warrior of Redwall

Redwall by Henry Schreiber

I chose Redwall because over the course of the last couple years I have asked if I have been influenced by it almost more than any other question I’ve been asked of anything I do.  I’m not influenced by the books, but I read them because I was invited to this show and I realized why people asked me that and I ended up being inspired by it and doing the piece because it fits with what I do so well.


Something Wicked This Way Comes

Catherone Moore art

It’s one of my favorite stories.  I read it when I was ten.  Ray Bradbury’s one of my favorite authors and I had been wanting to do that character for a really long time so this was a good opportunity to be able to do it.


American Psycho

American Pyscho by Leilani Bustamante

Brett Easton Ellis has always been able to cherry pick the very worst of humanity- there is a callousness, an irreverence and indifference to his characters, Patrick Bateman being one of the most notable in that vein.  The truth of this character reveals that even a beautiful facade cannot hide the depth of ones cruelty. That even through the history of our species –people are still unknowable.  As a subject, his persona is just a ruse for what his true nature is and the telling of that is evident through his eyes.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander by Edith Lebeau

 I chose Lisbeth Salander because  she is a strong female, she is introverted and I find her very mysterious.
Also her look described in the books was very appealing to me and I felt it was a right fit with my work.



Little Red Riding Hood

Soey Milk painting



Animal Farm

Robert Bowen Animal Farm painting



A Clockwork Orange

Craig Larotonda art



Moby Dick

Terry Ribera painting




Melissa Morgan painting



“The Tell-Tale Heart”

Scott Holloway art




Ahren Hertel art



Ender’s Game

Ender's Game by Sidarth Chaturvedi



Dangerous Angels

Christina Lank art



The Mists of Avalon

Jasmine Worth art

I chose The Mists of Avalon because I’ve always felt a connection to the book. I read it when I was younger and it really stuck with me. I enjoyed experiencing a typically male-driven narrative through the eyes of the women in the story.



Gone With The Wind

Glenn Arthur art




Albert Ramos Brida art



Great Expectations

Cassie McMahon art



20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Alec Huxley art




Laura Buss art

My subject for the “Fiction” portrait show is Lady Macbeth.  She appeals to me in the depths of her anguish and despair.  She committed her crime full of hubris and ambition for her husband, and she seems at times the energy and charisma behind the awful plan (of murdering the king), a role contrary to traditional views of womanhood.  And it haunts her, as it should, to the breaking point (she ostensibly commits suicide).  It seems in the end as if she is sacrificed for her husband’s sake, which after all does fall within traditional feminine roles…. An interesting trap. 

She is a compelling character…but of course, blood is always fun to paint as well.




Lance Hewison art

I fell in love with Woolf’s Orlando when I first read it about ten years ago. The character is incredibly passionate, vivid, and mercurial. Orlando starts as an aristocratic man in the the Elizabethan age, and inexplicably transforms into a woman overnight and lives through four centuries of British civilization. I responded to the fluidity of Orlando’s physical and interior states. He/she gets caught within the whims of each era, and is a bit of an outsider in spite of his/her efforts to feel connected to the shifting ages. The story is largely about Orlando’s ingenuity to survive and, at times, truly enjoy living in our fickle world, where societal rules and dress codes are carefully constructed only to inevitably topple like Jenga blocks. It’s Orlando’s wildly imaginative ability to reinvent him/herself that inspired me to choose this character from literature.



Peter Pan



The Metamorphoses

Chris Sedgwick art



God Emperor of Dune

Sandra Yagi Dune

I picked this particular character for a number of reasons:

  • He is so unusual, being a hybrid between human and the sandworm that lives on the plannet Arrakis in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.
  • Leto Atreides II is essentially trapped in the body of a worm and hangs on to whatever scrap of humanity that he can.  He misses ordinary things, such as a relationship with a woman, that is afforded to ordinary humans.  I wanted to capture some of the sadness and longing for aspects of his lost humanity in his face.  Yet he is also a god that is almost invulnerable, and ruler of the entire universe inhabited by humans.  The young man who modeled for Leto II is about the right age which I envisioned the character.  Plus the model has sensitive dark eyes and a sense of nobility that the Atreides family was described as  having by the author Frank Herbert.  Leto II is three thousand years old in the book, but he began the transformation into a sandworm when he was barely a teenager.  Since the metamorphosis makes him invulnerable to time and physical harm, I decided to give the character an extremely youthful appearance despite his chronological age.

Leto made a great sacrifice when he became the hybrid of man and sandworm, but he did it to save humanity.

  • This character has never been portrayed in movies.  Up to now, cinema has only covered the first three Dune books, and Leto II in this metamorphosis is in the fourth book, which has not yet made it to the silver screen.  Therefore, I had total control over the final look of this character, and viewers would not have a preconceived notion of the character’s look based on a movie.
  • I am a big fan of the Dune series!  I’ve read Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune several times.  I’m now reading Heretics of Dune which for some reason I just never got around to reading.
  • I enjoyed the aspect that Leto lives on an alien world.  I referred to photos of Mars from the Curiosity spacecraft to get ideas for color to use in the painting.


The Modern Eden Gallery

403 Francisco St.

San Francisco, CA 94113


Stay informed on future shows at the Modern Eden Gallery website.

Follow the Modern Eden Gallery on Twitter and Instagram at @ModernEden

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- who has written 424 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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