My latest painting, "Flip", is a very definite depiction of the concept of the acrobat. All of my figure paintings since graduate school have made reference to the acrobat, whether the overt subject be an athlete like John Kane or a saint like John the Baptist: the acrobat is always implied through pose, attitude and bearing.
Saints and athletes are considerations of man at his positive pinnacles - morally for the saints and physically for the athletes. Of course, in my Jesuit humanist training, achievement of both physical and moral perfection is the ideal - the convergence of Spartan and Franciscan philosophies. That is why these guys are worthy of memorializing in paint; for while I am a realist in aesthetic temperament, I don't believe in the ordinary. The reality of the driven is worthy of our scrutiny.
The acrobat, like the dancer and athlete, represents physical self-control for beneficial outcomes, but adds a bit of subversion suggesting something slightly untoward in its method: the acrobat asks the body to perform in quite unexpected and unnatural, yet titillating, ways. Therefore, the acrobat is a universal symbol for the inversion and reversal of established order. Distinctly anarchic. This is why the acrobat was a favorite subject for the modernist innovators like Degas, Picasso, Calder, and my beloved Walt Kuhn. They saw a reflection of themselves in their subjects and wanted to be recognized for the same daring, dangerous sensibilities, a connection contemporary artists are loath to relinquish.