Friday, December 5, 2008

A monopoly of lollipops

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 16''
Created Nov. 16- Dec. 5, 2008, #152.

This image has been on the back burner for more than two years. These lollipops were purchased for grab bags to offer trick or treaters on Halloween. Their transparent qualities inspired this playful image that was first meant to be fun and whimsical. Monopoly, the board game has a theme about climbing up the real estate ladder. The object of the game is to own every piece of property and drive the other players into bankruptcy.

If I am ever going to make any social commentary about our current economic state, this might be the time. Another title for this painting could have been, The collapse of the housing market: A monopoly of suckers.

When the average person gets a 3,5% wage increase per year, while in some housing markets, the prices of real estate were making gains up to 20%/year, it was just a matter of time until houses would no longer be affordable. Hitting the bandwagon in order to later resell to make a profit, or for the simple desire of owning a home became difficult for many. Others who are able to sustain these mortgage payments are house poor. With an influx of default and bank foreclosures when interest rate climb ever so slightly, this starting a chain of event that created such an impact that it can only be measured on a Ritcher's scale. Shaking the foundation on Wall Street and the global stock and commodity market, when giants cracks of several major US insurance companies and banks were revealed. Whether is was caused by over zealous buyers, sellers, building contractors, Realtors, banks lending to unqualified buyers with sub-prime mortgages or the government.

There are so many possible analogies in the imagery. From the least to the most expensive proprieties: Mediterranean Avenue to Boardwalk. With the lollipops in the colors of red, green and yellow which appears like traffic lights. When passing GO on yellow, it does become a cautionary tale. The Community Chest might not be as full as it once was. In the revised September 2008 edition of the Monopoly board game, the Luxury Tax has gone from $75 to $100 (a sign of the time). None of the lollipops appear perfect. The yellow has a piece missing near the stick, the sticks are not centered on the greens and reds, and the grape flavor on the left has a major crack in it.

During the initial drawing, the colorful grid of the cropped board reminded me of a composition of a Piet Mondrian painting. While I took great care to try to get everything exactly right, it only came to life once I started to apply all of the lighting effects in white paint on top. This was all done freehand, as it is not as important to get everything absolutely right to create the proper effect. It was a lot of fun and a very creative process.
My comments are not meant to point the finger or hurt anyone's feelings, just a reflection on our current situation. On a brighter note, there are 8 lollipops on the board. In Chinese culture, the number eight is considered lucky, meaning ''prosperity'' or ''wealth''.

Update - 2009/07/22 - ''A monopoly of lollipops'' was a finalist in the Still life / floral category of the Artist's Magazine 26th Annual Art Competition. Name to be publish in the Dec. 2009 issue.


  1. A wow piece Alvin!
    Perfect composition, strong execution- good post too.

  2. I agree! Wow. Beautifully done.

  3. Hi Alvin,
    Hey, I really love this piece and I'm glad I checked in on you. I'm only sorry I missed it when you posted it last week but I've been sick with an awful bug and haven't been doing too much. I love the colors, composition and meaning...nice job.

  4. Nooooooooooo? You are kidding? A painting? WOw!!!!!!

  5. Thank you all for your kind comments. What is art without tension?

  6. Beautiful, fun, perfect! I love this idea.

  7. Another amazing piece here Alvin and perfect timing! Stunning.


  8. I've been watching your work for a while. You may have had this on the back burner for a couple of years, but oh, the concept is so timely. Its so nice to find work that makes you think. And so beautifully executed.

  9. I love the composition and now I want a lollipop! I'm inspired!

  10. Alvin!

    This is incredible! No, make that....INCREDIBLE!!

    How is this possible?

    I clicked onto the larger scan several times and could swear this is a photo.

    You are a master at painting realism!

    Fun composition, bright colors, expertly done....literally perfect and flawless!

    One quick suggestion. A piece so amazing as this would've been great to see as a work-in-progress.

    It would be great to see several stages of a painting from start to finish, so we could see how you make the impossible possible. Just a suggestion!


  11. Hi Dean,
    Thanks for suggesting that. I will sometime in the future do a work- in-progess. In this one, all the magic happened with white paint at the end. Thanks for you visit and posting so many beautiful comments. You have a talent to do great things yourself.