An Homage to Francisco Goya & Charles Sexton
In order to fully appreciate this painting, context is needed about Jerome Caja and Charles Sexton. In the late 80's both men studied art together at the San Francisco Art Institute and became friends. Living with HIV prompted both artists to enter into a pact. Their commitment was that whoever was the "Loser in Life" had to bequeath his ashes to the survivor to be used for art. Charles was the first to go. Jerome then spent two years mixing nail polish with Charles' ashes and created a large body of artwork. Jerome gave many of these pieces to Charles' family and friends as personal reliquaries.
Jerome is often miscategorized as an outsider artist. In reality, he is a classically trained insider artist who went to several art schools. An avid museum patron, Jerome revered the masters and referenced their art in his own. "Charles Devouring Himself" is a good example of Jerome's reworking of a classic painting by Goya. The painting was exhibited in the "Remains of the Day" show at Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco and the "Hide/Seek" show at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
by Anthony Cianciolo