What is a vice and how does a person decide to cross over into that dark place that separates what we as a society consider “good” and “bad”? Webster’s defines vice as a moral depravity or corruption – a type of wickedness. But I find the definition of vice to be perhaps not so black and white, colored as it is by our own experiences and perceptions.
In this particular painting I am recalling a moral failing or “vice” that appeared in my life at the time – worrying and nagging at me through months of torture and denial until I was brought up short by evidence even I couldn’t hide my hard and stubborn face from. My girlfriend of 9 years was cheating on me. Is lust a vice? I suppose it depends on who you ask. It certainly felt that way from my point of view.
This painting, however, also explores the underpinnings of vice. Does vice occur in a vacuum? Is an act of vice wholly selfish and self absorbed? Well perhaps sometimes it is. But if someone we know and love commits an act we consider to be vice – must we not also stop and wonder if we contributed to it in some way? Not to lay fault or blame – but to recognize our own patterns and seek to change them so that vice, of this type at least, does not continue to crop up as a part of our lives.
My first thoughts when I heard the word vice used to be of the things we hear about in police shows on TV – theft, drug dealing, etc. But in this painting I am experiencing vice of the heart – lust, selfishness, cheating and betrayal of trust. The woman in the foreground imagines her nights with her lover – ignoring the heart that is being torn apart and flying away. The skeleton in the corner is perhaps a sign of death of something that was once significant – the consequences of vice.