"Beauty halts and freezes the melting flux of nature."
- Camille Paglia
Medusa’s Lair is a panorama of subterranean delights, a triumphiant trompe l’oeil where everyone is on the brink of polymorphously perverse climax. It captures a liminal state between a painting and a film, suggested by the 16:9 black bar framing (letterboxing).
To dramatise this idea: the people in the painting are in a stone sofa that’s perfectly moulded around the current shape of their bodies, halting the suggested movement of film. This idea is also followed through to the mechanics of composition where in order to mimic the ‘wide angle camera lens’ effect I used curvilinear perspective and studied the inner workings of a movie camera.
The man in the top right falls asleep into his mane as if it were a neck pillow to rest his head in at a departure lounge. His claw knuckle-busters effetely pierce a chocolate coated strawberry, taken from the ritualistic, lingam-yoni inflected chocolate fountain stalagmite scene on the right. The chards of the chandelier mimic stalactites from the roof of the cave.
The girl on the bottom right (me) dons a vaudevillian corset with an Edwardian ruff, accidentally doubling as a napkin on the table, pre-emptively mopping up a falling martini glass. Medusa is in ritual communion with the snake; a closer look reveals a pattern in the snake doubling as an eye, while the tongue of the creature and woman meet seductively. In the top left, a satyr’s horned crown vies for similitude with the chard-chandelier
The piece plays into New Media’s dissolution of the static, coherent image, encapsulated by the modern iPhone boomerang format and 80s vogueing (simultaneously a dance and a pose) while also paying homage to the sensuous nudes of Caravaggio and classical antiquity. I owe my ability to think in this way to cultural critic Camille Paglia and her panoramic sweep of art history. She is one of the few art historian/theorists whose scholarship has successfully straddled the increasingly “high and low” relationship between the fine arts and the popular arts.
" Iconic photographs exert a sense of cinematic grandeur; they seem to have a purpose beyond the static image in a larger, overarching story.
Stop a great film at any point and you can trace the careful eye of the art director balancing all the elements to look picture perfect."
The seed of the idea started from having a film idea which I couldn’t make as a film, so I decided to just paint a scene from it. I then began to think about how film and non-time based mediums like photography and painting influence each other.
Iconic photographs exert a sense of cinematic grandeur; they seem to have a purpose beyond the static image in a larger, overarching story. Stop a great film at any point and you can trace the careful eye of the art director balancing all the elements to look picture perfect.
People are sitting in a stone sofa which is moulded around their bodies. You couldn’t show this concept in a film because people would be changing their position and stone is solid and holds its shape.
The natural elements in the painting, for example the stalagmites, represent the flux of nature which has paradoxically bent itself towards human need, similar to how directors use film to capture life but in doing so bend it towards an artistic eye.