The idea of painting something else than just one work after another without much of a continuity in the narrative was hanging in my mind since some years without my being able to formalize a satisfactory method for the narrative to grow naturally as in a written story. The written story has an abundance of images succeeding one another and one single image detached from the story loses much of its narrative power. The written narrative grows indeed out of the succession of images. That's what I was after. Not exactly a narrative as in the 12 stages of the crucifixion illustrated in the works hanging in Christian churches (the Christian narrative is illustrated in 12 pictures hanging on the interior perimeter wall of the church). What I'm really after is a succession of pictures that grows its own narrative.
That grand project started to take shape in my mind while I was day dreaming putting the finishing touches to the following work:
As you might have observed this work is quite intricate in its details and its execution involved much work (over 120 hours for a size of 60 x 90 cm or 24" x 36").
I felt like this work contained "split seconds narratives" or short dreams interrupted by awakenings that is hiding a more profound meaning. I was puzzled by the possibilities that lay open on its four sides and was debating with myself if a truer meaning would not eventually emerge by exploring in those confines... That's how I decided to explore and this exploration resulted in the following.
The 8 panels surrounding the central and initial work are terminated compositionally and colour scheme wise but still need to be finished in their detailed renderings (thin lines). The total size reaches 180 on 270 cm (72" x 108") and as for now involved over 500 hours of work.
A bigger story is emerging here but I still felt a lot more possibilities were hanging from the sides and I wanted eagerly to pluck those possibilities ever further.
What follows is the addition of two layers of panels on the bottom of the 9 units seen just above.
The 6 bottom panels still need a lot of work as you might imagine.
While working on them I slowly became convinced that:
- I have reached the limits of one chapter in my grand story the same as if it was the chapter in a book. Remains now to balance the composition, the colour harmony, and finally the detailed rendering (at the same level as in panel n#1 that started this series).
- something else jumped to my mind. Each panel is a painting in its own right that means that it needs the same coherence as the total assembling in terms of compositional balance, colour harmony and detail in the execution.
- taken in isolation each panel looks like an abstraction but once assembled the panels generate meaning and it seems that the more panels are added the deeper the meaning becomes. In other words it appears that meaning emerges out of the assembling of what appears like abstract parts.
Total height now reaches 3 m or 120". To simplify my future work (avoid scaffolding and very large working space) I believe that I will have to limit my further painting to the lateral sides. This is when I got like a flash of consciousness into the possibility to integrate time in the narrative. The right side being the past, the present assembling being the present and the left side being the future, past and future potentially holding more than one chapter each. And thus emerged the idea of a life work around a grand narrative.
What kind of shocked me, after disassembling those 15 panels and randomly reassembling them in a one panel horizontal stream, is the sheer diversity in those works. Check it for yourself.
This post is being regularly updated with the further progress in the painting. Click here to view the updated version.