58 x 61cm
Death Denied
23" x 24", acrylic, 2000

In 1999, my father was diagnosed with throat cancer. This was not the first time death had come knocking on my father's door. This latest scare prompted me into doing a painting of him before it was too late. I have included my dad in a couple of paintings in the past but I had never done a serious portrait of him. When I asked him to pose for me, he had these temporary tatooed markings on his neck and shoulders for his cancer treatments. I questioned whether I should include these markings in the painting. These thoughts started playing on my conscience. How could a loving son think of such a thing? To my surprise, my father came to me insisting on including them in the painting.

When I look at this painting, I realize how vulnerable my father has become. When you are young, you think your parents are going to live forever. In the twilight of their lives, you start worrying about them. It is like a reversal of roles. You start becoming the parent. Luckily, my father triumphed over his cancer but in an ironic twist of fate, my oldest brother Dennis, who posed for me under the reaper's black robe, passed away on May 22, 2004 at the age of 50 from scleroderma.