Hope vs Dread




This large oil painting has a balloon-festooned playground atmosphere for me. Bright spheres exist on a dark background.

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To understand this picture from my perspective (and its not really necessary to attain this as your perspective is probably more important), I would suggest thinking about Existentialist philosophy. This is the 20th century school of thought resulting from writers such as Jon-Paul Satre and novelists such as Albert Camus. Modern input comes from the psychiatrist and novelist Irvin Yalom. Imagine everything reduced to fundamental moral conflicts and challenges. Each of us is instilled with the burden of freedom, the freedom to choose a path or make a decision. That decision has conseqences. Traditionally existentialism has an atheistic or agnostic underpinning. So your fundamental freedom exists in the absence of any divine support or guidance. This leads to the next point : meaning in life derives from you imposing your own meaning onto a life that has no objective or divinely inspired meaning. Understandably, this scenario leads to a tension between hope and dread. So that’s the background to the painting.


The concept and experience of Dread is a bigger thing than a philosophical concept. As humans, we all face a fearsome reality that can easily leads to the deep terror of dread. I paint in bright colours as a counterpoint to that reality.

More Faces

Someone recently pointed out that one can experience the world through visuo-emotional synaesthesia. That’s a pretty good description of what happens when I am painting these faces. There is also a kind of totemistic allusion going on here. A totem is like a spirit ancestor or an animal deity, in native tribes. Modernistic faces are like this for us, a mostly secularised people who have lost their previous link with the old forms of paleolithic spirituality. For me, its great that art can connect my friends, whether atheistic or agnostic, with this kind of numinous experience. What this means I think is that despite where we think we are philosophically, we are not that far from totem worship. What do you think?

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