Rest In Peace Kurt Cobain.
I didn’t grow up listening to him, and that made the process of discovering his music and story so heartbreaking because he was in so much pain all through out his life and died by suicide at an age younger than me…
This piece is inspired by his struggle with addiction, his artistic abilities, and how he refers to himself in his suicide note as a “sad… Pisces”. I used blue poppies for the piece because they allude to opioids but also the intense blue of his eyes which his fans adored. The inspiration came from the Heart Shaped Box music video where you see red poppies everywhere which was also a reference to his relationship with heroin.
Many people had suggested incorporating his drawings into the piece somehow because of how talented Cobain was at expressing himself visually. So I watched Montage of Heck, the Cobain documentary, because it highlighted his work. I ended up choosing to highlight 8 of the pieces shown near the end of the documentary because they were abstract representations of himself. The pieces from left to right are titled:
It’s haunting to know he did these so close to his death and so much of his art seemed like a form of self therapy. Near the end, he just wanted to lock himself in his room with Courtney to do drugs and paint. It seemed like music to him was about proving himself to the world and his obsession with perfecting his craft wore him out… Art was his escape.
I arrayed them as a garland covering a second portrait of him to represent his Pisces identity. When I was doing my polls to see which image most people wanted me to paint, the one of him smoking with his guitar had won just slightly but I decided on the top image of him in a beanie to make a unique artistic contribution since there was already so much art inspired by the first one. But since Pisces is a horoscope about duality, it was fitting to use both conceptually.
I chose to juxtapose the iconic rockstar image of him with the drawings that represented his inner headspace to comment on how little we understand about what our heroes are struggling with.
Though the reference images were black and white I chose to paint this piece in colour because of Cobain’s vibrant persona. However, I made the overall palette for this piece is very earthy because that’s what his personality made me feel. Kurt was a really grounded and self aware person who made a lot of reference to empathy in his interviews and down to his last words in his suicide note. The calm colours felt fitting to represent his legacy. I’m very proud of this piece and I hope you enjoy my tribute to one of the greatest rockstars of all time
You can find the piece as prints and apparel here.