-By Petar Meseldzija

The Exodus of Giants, oil on MDF board, 80X55 cm.

I recently finished a painting, titled The Exodus of Giants, that has been commissioned by an art collector from France. It’s a pity I wasn’t able to finish this piece earlier, so that we could include it in my upcoming book on giants. Speaking of The Book of Giants, the book is at the printer right now and is expected to be printed very soon.

However, because this painting depicts an important event described in the story – it’s composition is even based on a few drawings from the book – we decided to try to add this picture to the printed book in some way. We’ll see if this works out.

There is a wide spread opinion that a good painting must speak for itself and therefore doesn’t need any explanation, or additional information, in order to be properly experienced by the viewer (whatever that “properly” might mean). While I generally agree, I am at the same time well aware of the limitations imposed by such  a notion. It all depends on the type of painting (art) on one hand, and the spectator’s mindset on the other. It often happens that one is able to experience a painting more fully and to connect with it on a deeper, emotional level if one is aware of the painting’s context, whether historical, social, philosophical, or purely artistic.  Even a little story, or an anecdote, about the artist and the painting’s genesis can trigger an emotional response and unlock the flow of associations in the viewer’s mind. When viewing art we basically deal with symbols and concepts that represent both outer and inner world. Their impact on our psyche is the most important thing. Much of the communication with an art object happens at the unconscious level, and the more emotions involved in this “interaction”, the stronger the bond with that piece of art. This is quite obvious.

When I showed this painting for the first time, a few persons responded by asking: “Where do they get those furs?” Somebody else commented: ”I think you should be aware that giants would have to have a very different muscular and skeletal structure, otherwise they would be crashed under their own weight.”

One experiences art, like all other things, as one wants, or must. Every time you show your art work to the public you throw yourself before the lions, so to speak. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you are able to withstand whatever the audience throws at you, both good and bad. It can break you, but it can also help you grow, we all know that. Nevertheless, there are situations in which a kind of short sightedness and narrow-mindedness becomes apparent. I believe this can be corrected  to a certain degree by giving an appropriate explanation, or sharing a related story that can inspire and stimulate the public to expend its view.

When it comes to having a “proper” experience of art that deals with mythological themes I can say the following – before entering a mythological realm, which is a place situated deep within the human psyche, for the Unconscious is the birthplace of myth, one is required to leave one’s usual logic and rational thinking behind. It’s of no use there for these “imaginary” worlds have their own reality, their own laws, and their own logic. Therefore, use your imagination and harness your dreams. But, beware of a deadly danger lurking in the shadows…You might come across your true self down there. …At least that is my own experience.

At the end, and with the hope that you will experience this painting “properly”, and not ask about the furs, or G-force, here is a short part from The Book of Giants that inspired the painting’s creation:

Alas, the giants had overestimated their own strength and were eventually defeated by the gods. Many were slain in battle, while the rest fled into deep cracks and hollows under the mountains, disappearing from the face of the world for a long period of time. After many years spent in their somber refuge, the giants discovered the existence of an unknown land. This green and lush country was hidden behind an invisible barrier for so long that even the gods had forgotten it. But not all giants dared to leave the relative safety of their underground shelters and chose instead to stay. Those who did immigrate to the new land found a safe haven, which allowed them to walk freely in the daylight once again. This is known as the first exodus of giants.