A political and historical savvy spectator knows what is meant with the phrase ‘Grassy Knoll’. It was used by a CBS commentator who reported on the JFK assassination. Allegedly there were shots heared coming from the Grassy Knoll on Dealy Plaza in Dallas. This rumour contradicts the theory of the lone wolf Lee Harvey Oswald ought to have been.
For years I haven been fascinated by the myth built up around Kennedy’s death and the assumption there should have been at least one other shooter. Consequently there must be a plot and because of that an assault on democracy as such. Such fascination in the eyes of a painter must lead to an art work sooner or later.
For quite some time before the creation of the painting I struggled with its execution. A direct depiction of the event on the actual day seemed too ordinary or obvious to me. Eventually I became inspirated by the sunny weather on that day in November 1963. That image we all get clearly from the colored Polaroid pictures and the Zapruder frames.
Those photos considered as old-fashioned by modern standards show brillian saturated colors. As such the grass is greener that it is ever going to get and the Jackie Kennedy’s pink suit jumped right out. It is that same color saturation I wanted to express throughout the oil painting. The car in the middle is not the presidential Lincoln of course but a car from that era and its color a tribute to Jackie’s suit.
Some time ago I saw a documentary by Willem Dankbaar, inverviewing an alleged accomplice in prison, called James Files. According to his own statement he was the hitman on that knoll, handling a Remington XP-100. Of course I do not know what was going on on that specific day but the second shooter theory seems plausible to me. Analysing a couples of Zapruder frames you (almost) can see a bullet coming from the right, being the fatal head shot. James also stated that he and Oswald were scouting the area a couple of days prior to ‘the big event in the South’.
James’ statement inspired me to situate the painting a day before November the 22nd. I imaged it might have been so that CIA spooks and mobsters like James would scout the area for perfect shooting locations. So I placed two persons in the front looking forward almost aloofly and discretely. They are seen from the back to prevent seeing their faces. They could be everybody. Perhaps the man in the front left has a mystic experience: he mistakes the pink car for the color of Jackie’s suit.
The aim was to create a tranquil looking painting. Rather an inconspicuous landscape but with the uncanny connotation known to those who read the writings on the wall. A collector I know was very charmed by the art work but wanted a bigger canvas. Although I am not a supporter of the idea to paint a motif twice the stimulance to work out the theme in a more refined way was stronger. It became Grassy Knoll 2 (2007).
Oil on wood panel (61 x 84 x 0.9 cm)
Artist: Corné Akkers
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