Panel 2 Concerning the optical illusion

Fusion paintings

There have been considerable changes made to the painting since the last blog post. Here is an image of the present state of the panel.

Work in progress copyright Bernard Barnes

Dreaming an optical illusion

The two sleeping figures in the painting, he with his clever box of tricks, she with her child, are managing to rest quietly in spite of the turbulence of the events around them. The previous manifestation of unrelenting chaos and conflict proved too much for me. Soft flesh was needed to mitigate the relentless horror of the 20th century’s public political character.

The surrounding images still record the endless accounts of war and rumours of war that fill the chronologies of that century, and I have used many familiar images in close sequence beginning with the German blacksmith top left to tell the story.  My concern here is to incorporate these  images into a swirl of events reminiscent of the huge hurricanes that have just been destroying the Caribbean. There is a snake-like feeling to the border also, the enormous curled Midgard serpent Jörmungandr perhaps from Nordic mythology. I also feel inclined to refer the style of this decorative motif to the interwoven patterns of Celtic illustration characterised by the Book of Kells.

It is however the central two figures who hold my attention at present.

These two figures return the panel to the recurrent theme of ‘the mythic image’ which will characterise the ceiling panels. The original panel entitled ‘the mythic dreamer of Göbekli Tepe’ has begun this theme.

I have preserved much of the previous ‘fusion’ painting, but much of it has receded to a background position. I see now two exhausted figures, representing the common people who somehow survived the century. We observe them in an intimate moment, with troubled dreams, some shared. He reminds me of a puppet master, going from fair to fair (as I did when I travelled around France and the low countries with my puppets and my violin) eking out a tenuous living.

This manner of painting, layering image upon image, idea upon idea, seems to have evolved as a suitable technique for developing direction and meaning to the paintings. By never losing previous layers and thoughts, the image becomes dense with meaning. It is not intended to be doctrinaire in any way, expressing a conclusion in the manner of propaganda, but as an example of visual thinking around a subject.