Enthronement of a King, 2019
oil on belgian linen
96h x 96w in
243.84h x 243.84w cm
I have always said the day I leave this earth, there will be a lion on my easel, and Enthronement of a King is a painting that I thought might be my last. It tested me in every way—physically, emotionally and creatively. It is a work I had wanted to do for nearly 15 years. Watching wild lions over the last several decades has stirred within me an overwhelming fascination and wonder.
How can we be living in this modern world and still share it with giant, free-roaming cats? They are magnificent in every way, and there is no doubt I was put on this earth to tell their story—the raw, truthful and unfiltered side.
The power of lions forever draws me near. They are neither cruel nor compassionate, express neither joy or sorrow. Lions know who and what they are and never apologize for it. Lions simply are the King of Beasts.
1 Upon birth, every lion cub is gifted with the potential for a rich and full life and a chance to become king. In order to survive he must overcome many obstacles and learn from his mother how to survive in the animal kingdom.
2 Childhood is all about fun. Everything is a game and playtime is each day’s top priority. Games sharpen his abilities and teach him the skills he will rely on one day.
3 He has become sexually mature and his father aggressively tells him “it’s time go; run away and never return”. Alone and leaving behind all he has known he enters a world filled with new dangers around every corner, but one day everything the light touches will become his kingdom.
4 Now he must be brave. Out of his banishment he will rise to greet the dawn of a new era, becoming a tender killer existing in a beautiful but brutal land. He will face hostile enemies alone and his most dangerous encounters will always be with man.
5 He is now grown and battle hardened. He has found another male to join forces with and as a coalition they possess the strength, speed and refined skills to take not only the largest of prey, but to claim their own territory. He is mature enough to understand his fears and to overcome them. He believes in himself and there will come a day soon when others will too.
6 Now in his prime, he has beat the odds. Over the years he has not fallen to disease, poison or predation by a hyena. He has not been bitten by a snake, wounded, trampled by a buffalo, killed by a sibling, outside male or his own father. Not speared by a Masai or shot by a hunter. He has arrived at this moment, his moment, a glorious and celebrated moment and through his own grit and determination he has realized his ordained destiny to become a “King.”
7 He has now taken fancy to a beautiful lioness who has welcomed his advances, will bear his children and become part of his pride. For several days these two will be together sowing the seeds of a pride of their own.
8 He now has a territory and pride to call his own where all of his needs are met and everything he sees has become his. These are his days of “Camelot.”
9 A king’s time as ruler rises and falls like the sun and the sun has set on his time. Three strong outside invaders arrive, more powerful and more driven to overthrow his reign and claim his kingdom.
10 Again a nomad he is forced to live in the “marginal areas” as he no longer has a kingdom of his own. Life on the edge is hard and leads to a serious decline in strength and condition. Prey that he once had dominion over, he now must walk humbly past and settle for smaller scraps.
11 He has triumphantly reached the end of his journey and as he takes his last breath we celebrate the fact that he has lived a rich and full life. His legendary character and spirit will live on in the many generations of his children. As he slips away he will eventually become one with the earth and like all of us, become part of the great circle of life. “Long Live the King”