"It depicts an unconscious patient being slowly pulled into the mouth of a macabre death mask. Helpless. The death's head resembles the opening of a CAT scan machine, a symbol of modern medical technology.
It is the work of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the man who bore the notorious nickname "Dr. Death." He was a passionate advocate for allowing certain people to choose the time and manner of their own death. He claimed to have assisted in the suicides for more than 130 patients over a period of nearly 20 years.
Kevorkian's career ended in 1999 with his conviction on charges of second degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a patient who had Lou Gehrig's disease. He spent eight years in prison.
Most people though don't realize that Kevorkian was also a longtime painter. Eleven of his works of art are on display this month in a trendy West Hollywood art gallery.
"He was a talented amateur," curator Lee Bowers told CNN. "He painted throughout much of his life." All 11 paintings are available for purchase. The asking price is as much as $45,000 per canvas, Bowers said. Proceeds go to the estate and the gallery, and the paintings that don't sell are headed to the Smithsonian, Bowers said.
Other paintings comment satirically on what Kevorkian viewed as the hypocrisy of the medical code of ethics. He once called efforts to prosecute him "a political lynching, engineered by the Inquisition."
Kevorkian told CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta in 2010 that serving eight years in prison had not changed his view of assisted suicide.
"It's a medical service," Kevorkian stated, "It's not political. It's not religious."
Are his paintings great art? Well, that is in the eye of the beholder. But they continue to speak to Dr. Kevorkian's battle against the medical and legal establishment. A battle that continues, even in death."
Kevorkian's written description of each is included with the three pieces I selected to share...
More about him on Frontline.
This depicts how most human beings feel about dying -- at least about their own deaths. Despite the solace of hypocritical religiosity and its seductive promise of an after-life of heavenly bliss. Most of us will do anything to thwart the inevitable victory of biological death. We contemplate and face it with great apprehension, profound fear, and terror. Sparing no financial or physical sacrifice, pleading wantonly and unashamedly, clutching any hope of salvation through medicine or prayer. How forbidding that dark abyss! How stupendous the yearning to dodge its gaping orifice. How inexorable the engulfment. Yet, below are the disintegrating hulks of those who have gone before; they have made the insensible transition and wonder what the fuss is all about. After all, how excruciating can nothingness be?
Every person is physically a part of the fabric called humanity, which is --unilaterally-- bedizened with all kinds of nobel epithets and arbitrary virtues. On the contrary, the pervading spirit is, and always was, a miasma of distrust and suspicion, periodically accentuated by hate and outright mayhem and murder. Despite effusive lip service to sublime ideals, humanity's awe is lavished on its real god, Satan, whose suzerainty and leering confidence are sustained by his loyal subjects throughout the world --in Bosnia, Somalia, Ireland, India, the Middle East, Haiti, Cuba, Tibet, South Africa -- and Waco.
What is war? Is it a soldier dying, or guns, or bombs, or crosses, or weeping mothers, or sport, or patriotism, or valor, or high paying jobs? What is war? Not hell. For that is merely evil. War is worse than evil. It is mind-boggling suicide --mass suicide-- with humankind devouring or trying to devour itself. In vain attemps to assuage some sort of weird, innate (and apparently insatiable) appetite nurtured by our true and beloved God, Mars, we will not settle for less than the "flower of evolution" as the main course, embellished by bountiful side dishes and fanciful shakers filled with the "fruits" of our marvelous hands and big starving brains. How long will we persist in this lethal nonsense? How long before we really believe that salvation lies not in an insane paradox fostered by brute and selfish gluttony, but in the far more "nutritious" and healthful viand in the sadly neglected garden of human compassion and understanding? Considering the status of brotherhood today, possibly too long.