Kepler’s Elements

“Kepler’s Elements” (2020)
by Gerhard (1959-)
5 x 16 in, ink on board
Coppola Collection

This is an interpretation of Kepler’s elements, from 1619, as imagined from the fertile and creative hand and mind of Gerhard. I am using Kepler’s drawings in a textbook (they are public domain, after all), and I decided I would commission Ger and give him free reign to come up with a modern interpretation. The guy just winds up and knocks it over the far wall every time. A copy of Kepler’s drawings is included as an additional image.

Johannes Kepler, in the “Harmonices Mundi” (The Harmony of the World; 1619), discusses the harmony and congruence in geometrical forms and physical phenomena. An extrapolation of Platonic philosophy, Kepler created some of the most iconic drawings in the history of chemistry, integrating contemporary ideas about the five basic elements into the properties of the five basic physical forms of the Platonic solids. The pointy tetrahedron represents the sharpness of fire, and so also then the particles of fire are tetrahedral. The easily packed cubic form contains the properties of the earths (solids). The octahedral form is associated with air (gasses), and the highly mobile icosahedron with water (liquids). The 12-sided and spherical dodecahedron is associated with the aether of the heavens, one side (clearly) for each sign of the zodiac with the blazing sun in the center (Kepler is credited as being one of the first prominent astronomers who embraced fully the Copernican, heliocentric model of the universe).

The Great Wall Series

One of the earliest commission jobs I asked Gerhard to take on was looking through some of my favorite images that I had taken during my trips to China, particularly shots of the Great Wall, and then to transform them through the magic of his ink and watercolor prowess.

He made some terrific choices in how to handle these, particularly in going to the light sepia tones instead of full contrasting color.

As he was reviewing a site that had lots of pictures, we collaborated on narrowing down the exact set according to the different points of view and depictions.

When the four drawings arrived, there was a fifth included. A truly wonderful and amazing and hilarious gift from Gerhard, who, in reviewing the pictures, had come across one that he simple HAD to do. So funny. So cool. It is there at the bottom of this set.

The Great Wall Series (2009)

GreatWall01Great Wall No. 1” (2009)
by Gerhard (1959-)
16×20 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection

Great Wall No. 2” (2009)
by Gerhard (1959-)
16×20 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection

Great Wall No. 3” (2009)
by Gerhard (1959-)
16×20 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection

Great Wall No. 4” (2009)
by Gerhard (1959-)
16×20 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection


And… presenting… the bonus fifth drawing.

Yes, that’s me… in garb… on a camel. And yes, that happened.

Great Wall No. 5” (2009)
by Gerhard (1959-)
16×20 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection

Gerhard surprised me twice with this image. It appeared as a framed picture on the wall of “Gerhard Dreams” (2011).

“1900 Paris 2015”

DzXA3Akt_0305160610431gpadd1900 Paris 2015” (2016)
by Gerhard (1959-)
18×24 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection

“As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.” – Oscar Wilde

I kicked off this idea by sketching out (verbally) what I had in mind to the always stellar and fun-to-collaborate-with Gerhard. The actual visualization is all him, of course, as was the brilliant idea to populate the cafe which, in my original idea, was abandoned. Ger’s contribution to this piece is substantial.

Oscar Wilde was a victim in the ideological war against homosexuality in late 1800s England, where he was imprisoned and served two years of hard labor. He was released from prison, moved to Paris under a pseudonym, and lived out his last few years at a hotel residence with a Ram’s head over the entrance. He died, in Paris, in 1900.

About 3 Km away from the hotel where Wilde died is the Carillon Hotel and its café, where many patrons died in 2015 as victims in a bombing associated with another kind of ideological war.

In bringing these stories together, we have a contemporary couple holding hands, a symbol of 2015 and some progress made in Wilde’s war, which has not been won, everywhere, and particularly in places where certain ideologies are still strongly held beliefs.

Our victorious couple notes the memory (a virtual existence) of Wilde at the café. Wilde is in the vibrant colors of the living couple as his ideology is alive. But we also note our many friends at the café who died an equal opportunity death for transgressions against God and Nature, in 2015, that made about as much sense as Wilde’s did in 1900.

Who can play the role of Wilde to bring resolve in this new war? Ironically enough, it is a war fought over religious ideologies as much as any other, and so (believe me!) it was tempting to have Gerhard include an inverted crucifix on the wall of the cafe. But I did not go that far. Sue me.

At the end of the day, it is the people who need to bring sensibility to the insensible.

In Wilde’s war, we have our couple representing this victory of people. And so, now, you might have noticed that these two guys are at least ambiguous in their nationalities, and might well be drawn from Middle Eastern models. The future victory in this vulgar war will come (again) from the decisions made by people, who will bring life and color to the gruesome cadre of victims who live in the muted tones of our landscape and mindscape.

The title I selected is rather obvious, but it was not the first one I thought of. While in Paris, Wilde took the name “Sebastian Melmoth”, after Saint Sebastian, and the title character of Melmoth the Wanderer – a Gothic novel by Charles Maturin, Wilde’s great-uncle. One of the titles I had in mind for this was “The Resurrection of Saint Sebastian.”

“Cerebus 174 page 7”

Cerebus174p7Cerebus 174 page 7” (1993)
by Dave Sim (1956-) & Gerhard (1959-)
11 x 17 in., ink and tone on board
Coppola Collection

If only this page had Suenteus Po in it… because it has everything else:
• Cirin, Astoria, Cerebus, and the Roach
• a funny Cerebus moment
• the parallel compositional design of the main panels
• some great Gerhard environmental pieces

“Set a Spell”

Like many others, I was enamored with this photograph “Set A Spell: 1939” ( by Dorothea Lange. I wanted to see what Gerhard could do with this.

SetASpell 2

Here, remarkably, is the drawn and inked version of this picture, as imagined by Gerhard.


Ger did a lot of searching to find out what the original colors of these objects might have been. Then, getting the colors right turned out to be a challenge. Intense colors looked too “colorized” and monotoned. He settled on the muted and toned interpretation, and it is remarkable.

“Set a Spell” (2013)
by Gerhard (1959-)
24×30 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection

This is the second commission based on an historical photo that I liked over at The other was a painting by Oriana.

“Gerhard Dreams”

Among the stellar covers done for the “Following Cerebus” magazine, the one on issue #11 (2004) is a standout. An Escher-esque inversion of the room, representing a dream (or nightmare).

I asked Gerhard to re-imagine this without the Aardvark.



Gerhard Dreams screen size

colour1 ,colour2 colour3

The fellow in bed, and falling out of the bed, is Gerhard. The picture on the wall is me, on a camel (that’s a longer story).

Gerhard Dreams” (2011)
by Gerhard (1959-)
24×30 in., ink and watercolor
Coppola Collection