As a self-defined biomorphic surrealist artist, who starts with a very loose idea and builds detail and layers, I thought I would start explaining some of the themes and narratives of my paintings. The standard theme throughout all of my paintings over the last few years are the ‘aquatic’ black and white creatures that circulate many of the main colourful characters. I have come to realise over time that the black and white creatures represent anxiety, painful thoughts and overthinking; I now consider them to be and call them dread devils. I feel that many of these ‘aquatic’ black and white characters look like a variation on deep sea marine life (such as angler fish and viper fish). I now consider the subconscious relevance of using these forms from the deep for ‘dread devils’ as that they too come from the depths, but the depths of the subconscious mind representing anxiety and painful memories. However, some of the recent black and white characters within my current paints are more hopeful and canine/bovine in nature (Canine representing love and bovine representing strength). I have also worked hard in the current and the last painting to develop the movement and dance of the ‘dread devils’ to represent the nebulous flow of thought. I also realise that the ‘dread devils’ are the primary compositional aspects of my current paintings.
So, the horned sitting bovine character is the cub who was washed out to sea on a crimson tide. I think we can all feel sometimes that we are still a child (cub) inside, and when things get bad we can feel very far away from hope (treading water out to sea). Trauma, bereavement, love and loss are the Crimson Tide. The painting itself is meant to be read, and I build many of the characters with the written word, some of which overflows into the outer composition.
Within this painting, there are two interesting aspects to me as the artist. The first is the bottom quarter of the painting where the bovine character’s back legs are also operating as arms. They are scooping up or holding onto ‘dread devils’, which I consider as a metaphor for not being able to let go of painful memories and anxiety. Above the 2 scooped ‘dread devils’ is a slipped mask with a haunted face being exposed; again another metaphor, this time representing the fear of not knowing who you would be without your anxieties and painful memories. The second aspect is the central black and white ‘dread devil’ who is passing on what can only be described as a Covid 19 virus cell to the masked bovine character (this wasn’t incidental but clearly another anxiety for us all).
Anyway, if you’ve read this, thanks, hopefully it gives a much better understanding of the narratives at play in some of my paintings. Yes, sadly my paintings are autobiographical but they are also therapeutic. You are most welcome. Love Greg.