This is part 3 of the Apsara theme and by far my most ambitious work. The picture is essentially a construct of different elements of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and the Khmer culture brought together for this composition. While the Apsara Dancers play a prominent role within this narrative, I did not want them to dominate the scene, so I put them within their cultural context by including temple architecture and the serpent statue as well as a landscape and the presence of water (that was critical to the success of the original Khmer civilization). The addition of clouds is intended to make the scene more dramatic and the blue sky is deliberately very dark to enhance the contrast (often seen in black and white photography). Furthermore, I have tried to covey a sweeping vista by setting the composition within a “widescreen” aspect ratio (1:2.9).
The picture is 50cm by 145cm and took 140 hours to draw over six months.
Part 2: Help me! is based on a photograph of a rather ordinary stairway in an English Georgian Era house, but the addition of a girl situated above the stairs gives a whole new, rather unnerving aspect to the scene. Furthermore, I have also attempted to create a dream-like feel to the picture, playing on the limits of our awareness by emphasising the unseen. The girl has been deliberately placed partially in shot and the door has been left open into a pitch black room. It is hinted that something very sinister is going on by the tense pose of the girl and her position above the stairs. Consequently, this all leads to unanswerable questions about what is going on here. Well, I leave that up to the imagination of the viewer. As the artist that created this picture, even I am not sure what is going here either!
In a departure from my usual subject matter, I have instead decided to explore the realm of surrealism with this concept piece. I have long been fascinated with the suspension of disbelief, where something is out place within the seemingly normal world. It is inherently unsettling when you realize that all is not as it seems, or that something is defying natural physical laws.
This picture has been directly influenced by imagery from the video clip “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails as well elements from the “American Horror Story” television show. Other inspirations have come from David Lynch, the artwork of M.C. Escher and, more recently, the hyper-realist art of Jeremy Geddes.
This scene shows a man levitating above the floor in an empty room. He appears to be in a trance-like state although it is not known if this is a deliberate act or against his will. It is also not known where he is or how he came to be there. In many ways it is like a dream; you can interpret it any way you want.
The underlying theme I have attempted to capture here is the harmony of dancers performing gracefully in well-timed unison. Indeed, the study and discipline required to perfect choreography of this kind is also something I admire greatly and pay tribute to through these pictures.
I originally decided to draw the Cambodian Apsara Dancer to complement my other drawing of a Spanish Flamenco Dancer (which is also appears on my blog). I was particularly interested in contrasting imagery as well as the style of movement exhibited by each dance, from the passionate whirling, stamping and clapping of the Flamenco to the graceful, elegantly timed movements of the classical Apsara dancer.
The difference in the style of dance and indeed the culture, from which they are derived, could not be more apparent yet each performance is a beautiful display of human movement and expression. For me, such refined cultural creativity represents the very best in human nature.
A popular theme, certainly in western art is the story of the wars in heaven, which we now identify with the origins of the devil. Originally a biblical tale and popularized by John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”, the expulsion of Lucifer and his followers from heaven has been a major influence on western art and literature for centuries. Indeed, the contemporary imaginings of the devil as being a suited gentleman of immaculate taste and infinite intelligence have been widely conveyed through film, music and literature in recent decades.
This piece is actually an adaptation of a painting by Joel Rea called “Transcend Blue III”, depicting a suited man in freefall. It is a very dramatic picture and reminded me of Paradise Lost when I first saw it. I followed this line of thought by adding wings to the man to convey the fallen angel theme while keeping the suit would give the subject a contemporary look.