“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
Carl Gustav Jung.
Sometime ago I was encouraged to adapt my style of illustration aimed primarily for publication purposes to that suitable for a commercial gallery. It was something I’ve never considered. I decided to rise to the challenge. This artwork is the result of a long process of trial and error to reach a point where an iconic piece could be used as a proposal for a series.
I needed an idea that had potential to be explored at depth. It had to be something that would capture my imagination enough to keep enthusiasm alive. It had to have emotional impact for it to connect with the viewer.
I arrived at the idea of using positive and negative emotional states as the basis of the project. By exploring these, I could produce artwork that represented each state. For example, on the positive side there was scope to use love, joy and laughter balanced on the negative side with hatred, rage and misery. I had originally decided to call the project Gods and Monsters but settled on a more socially acceptable Angels and Demons. Besides, we all have our own angels and demons.
With the initial idea conceptualised, I decided to produce a single piece that captured this theme. It needed to show how the positive state of mind was manifested and equally, show the negative state of mind. Most can place themselves somewhere within this spectrum at any given time. There are those that are equally torn between euphoria and dysphoria. That isn’t a particularly nice place to be. Continuously seduced in either direction by those extremes is debilitating.
And so Conflict, part of the Angels and Demons proposal, came to be.
The interpretation of this individual piece within the proposed series is subjective. The actual meaning is roughly about acknowledging weaknesses within oneself which in turn proves to be great strength.
My angels and demons are not typical of their entities due to the fact they are manifestations of emotional states. As a result, I stayed away from halos and horns. Female figures are chosen to represent seduction, the desire to be lead in any given direction. There needed to be something tactile that would wrap itself around the tormented. I chose soft flowing ribbons for the light. I chose prickly, rigid brambles for the dark. They appear everywhere on their appropriate aspects, twisting around limbs, tangling hair and searching for a way to get a hold. Amongst the explosion of emotions are white and black roses to further enhance light and dark moods.
Both manifestations are not actually touching the tormented. As it is, there is a perpetual standoff between the two, summarised in the Latin quote where light meets dark:
Qui me tangit, vocem meam audit.
(Roughly translated as: Who touches me, hears my voice.)
A pitiful image, however, upon closer inspection, it’s actually one of hope. The tormented has everything needed to untangle their struggle with both states of mind. All they have to do is unfold themselves from their cocoon, lift their head and see what’s on offer in front of them.
Here are several images showing a variety of stages in the making of the artwork.
The piece uses many aspects of creativity. The illustration style is my signature hand inked hatching and pointillism. There is papier-mâché sculpture. Several decoupage elements give more three-dimensional relief. Finally, the frame itself is entirely hand crafted.
This initial piece is representative of what could be and opens up another avenue of work I never before considered. Curiosity boutiques, galleries and merchandise can all benefit from exploring the possibilities within this project.
It's food for thought, much like the image itself.