The Meaning of the symbolic imagery
The Evil Pegasus

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Evil Pegasus 2, by Dan Gheno, 2014, Oil on two canvases, 36 x 36 in, 36 x 18in 

By Dan Gheno

My figurative work is primarily metaphorical, dealing with social, psychological, and political themes, along with formal aesthetic concerns such as canvas surface, paint quality and gestural expressiveness. Much of my allegorical imagery is quite personal and opaque and usually not immediately accessible to the general public. I try to present my metaphorical content in a manner broad enough so viewers can come to their own conclusions. I ask them to collaborate with me and actively interact with the painting, interpreting the imagery based upon their own personal experiences. If one looks at these works and see something completely contrary to the explanation below, that is okay. Your interpretation is just as valid as my own. 


The imagery in the Evil Pegasus canvases make a metaphorical reference to the modern “rebirth” of the oil trust/monopolies such as Exxon-Mobil that were long ago outlawed by the Sherman Anti-Trust act, a law largely left unused since President James Carter broke up AT&T. The male figure in the left canvas symbolically represents a billionaire as a shaman or warlock, and the hands in the right canvas are an allusion to the mystical gestures found in much religious imagery. But, instead of conjuring up good, they call forth the evil magical forces of the  Mobil and Exxon mascots.



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I reversed the normal Mobil Pegasus emblem from facing left to right in order to emphasize its meaning as an antisocial symbol.


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Although the Exxon mascot is a tiger, I decided to use a lion instead-- the tiger and its stripes seemed too cartoony, and I felt that the image of a lion could better visually convey the company's predatory nature.


The skulls signify the social and physical destruction caused by these greedy, non-nationally affiliated corporations.  Specifically, the skull in the right canvas represents a bubbling up of death in much the same way oil explodes from the depths of earth and, when ignited, often flares into a hellishly tall, burning spire.



This canvas is not only a social statement, but it is also a personal one: The image of the floating, white haired man is a representation of my father who loyally served Mobil as an independent service station owner. As were many other independent dealers in the 70’s, he was given a gangster-like ultimatum by Mobil. After the independents helped them build up their supply chain, Mobil was then only interested in building up a corporate monopoly of distribution. Either he sold his station to the corporation, or the gasoline supply would be cut off.



Hardly serving as an example of free enterprise, these large corporations such as Mobil and Koch Industries act like sovereign entities, beholden to no individual country or religion, only devoted to their self interest while the rest of the world burns, largely due to their machinations. If left under regulated and allowed to continue their monopolistic approach, their actions will lead to the demise of true and open competitive capitalism in this country and destroy our identity as a free, democratic country.


David Koch as a member of the League of Super Villains


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The League of Super Villains 1, by Dan Gheno, oil on canvas, 40 x 40


Update 5/15/17:
With the recent election of Donald Trump, the monopolist threat to free commerce and freedom of speech has increase exponentially since the above words were written a year or so ago. The title of the painting below refers to the Nordic mythic story of Ragnarok, in which our Earth is consumed by a number of calamities that destroy many of the gods and leaves the world immersed in water.  This  is not such a  farfetched scenario given the recent rise of climate-change denialism.

Dan Gheno, Ragnarok Begins 1: Death of the Demos, diptych, oil, 2016-17, 50 x 36 inches
Update: October 2021 
Trump did not win reelection but is doing everything in his power to negate and destroy 100's of years of democratice evolution through the instigation of chaos (I.E. Helter Skelter).
Dan Gheno, Helter-Skelter, oil on board, 20 X 24, 2019-2020
Dan Gheno, Predators: The Herald of Helter Skelter, Oil on Canvas, 49 3/4 x 48 3/4 
Update: September 12, 2022 
A Predator still, Trump's antics continue to undermine democracy--casting an eclipse over its embattled soul.
Dan Gheno,  Title: "Predator: The Bringer of the Eclipse," 30 X 40' oil on canvas
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Gheno teaches at two schools: The Art Students League of New York, 215 W 57th St, New York, NY, 10019

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