Recently I posted a piece that I created for a Giger Tribute Show. I occasionally like to exhibit in group shows because it’s a great opportunity to pursue a topic or theme without having to create an entire body of work, but if you are experimental as most of the artists I know can be, it can lead you to your own theme.
The piece I executed for the show is called Somnus, which is the Roman personification of sleep. The Greek counterpart is Hypnos. I choose to view Somnus and Hypnos as essentially the same entity (yes, there are some differences) . Somnus/Hypnos is the child of Nyx (Night) and Erebus (Darkness) and sibling of Thanatos (Death) and the parent of Morpheus. So in diving into the mythology that was initiated by my participation in the show I have been led down a path that is very rich with lore and legend. Many artists who have grown up reading fantasy and mythology will find these names familiar, especially since so many Greek and Roman stories became the foundation for so many modern interpretations.
This is all to say that one piece can initiate a train of thought that can snowball into a new direction. If you allow it to.
One thing that I have been fairly resistant to in the past is series work. I usually have an idea(s) that I execute and sometimes think “this would make a great series” but… typically I would get two, sometimes three pieces in and feel like I was just repeating myself and move on to something else. Lately though, my mind has been operating differently.
As I work on a piece I start to have many different ideas about how to continue, indeed sometimes changing direction in the middle and occasionally at the end (which means starting over).
Case in point, just before the Somnus piece I was working on a more abstract expression that I wasn’t finding myself connected to, in the way that I do with my most personal works. I took it into the backyard and destroyed it with a sledgehammer. It was very cathartic. If I had just put it aside it would have literally haunted me until I either resolved it or abandoned it (and abandoning a piece doesn’t work for me because it’s still right there, looking back at me with a disapproving eye… sometimes five or six (or no) eyes depending on the creature/entity).
…so in the middle of the failed piece I sketched this rather plain looking thumbnail but what I saw in the thumbnail was the end result.
I began working on the new piece, thinking of Giger and the nature of his work. My aspirations for such a piece aren’t to reproduce any particular image or exacting reproduction of his manner or method but to show in a very direct, perhaps exaggerated way, the influence his work had upon me.
Below: Somnus Works in Progress
As I was working, making decisions, making note of the decisions I abandoned along the way I began to realize that I wanted to do another similar piece. Similar in nature but utilizing some of the other ideas that had occurred to me.
So as it turns out, I do like series work, for me, when it happens organically in the process of discovery and evolution. This was all touched upon briefly when I did the Shroud series of three pieces.
Each one led to the next and I didn’t realize it was a series until I was already in it.
This has happened once before with the Imperfection series that appeared in the Covenant show that I had at Copro Gallery a few years ago.
(that series is still flowing in an undercurrent in my mind)
Though I’m more apt to pursue a series if I come to it naturally I still reserve the right to make a hard right or left turn if I feel the need. Or to start over entirely. It’s this freedom of thought that in the end keeps things fresh for me and, so far, makes me feel like I’m always learning something new. Though to be honest, when a piece is working and I’m in the flow, it feels like it just “happens” and I’m often left with this feeling that I have no idea what or how I just did this.
This feeling I summed up in one of my earlier sketchbooks when I paraphrased the Tolkien line “Not all who wander are lost.” my version was “I’ve been wandering so long I no longer feel lost” and that is still true today.
I’ll end with his full quote because I have found it to be true in my own experience:
“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
Started with Giger, ended with Tolkien and that’s Ok.
Fabulous work! Very impressive and definitely Geiger’ish in its style 🙂