Three Paintings at the Underdog Gallery

Three of my paintings are hanging at the Underdog Gallery in London as part of their re-launch. The exhibition runs until the 25th of February, you can find out more here.

The Seventh Seal, Bleak Twigs and Flowers of Orcus

The Seventh Seal

The Seventh Seal was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name. The film recounts the story of a knight undergoing an existential crisis whilst he plays a game of chess against Death. If he loses, he dies. If he wins, he gets to live.

The painting incorporates visual references to the film and its themes. The composition and colours suggest a chess board. The horse represents the Knight, who opposes the pale-faced figure of death. These characters are surrounded by many symbols of time; both manmade and natural.


Bleak Twigs

Bleak Twigs draws influences from the TV Series True Detective, which is inspired by the Erlking from German folklore. The Erlking tale tells of a woodland spirit who ensnares unsuspecting passersby. The twigs growing out of the skull and perched birds represent the natural world’s indifference to human concerns. This lends the piece a Romantic attitude, in keeping with the themes of the original: the violence and power of nature, humans underestimating the environment, understanding how subtle forces can prevail over time.


Flowers of Orcus

The Flowers of Orcus was drawn from an imagistic poem by Ezra Pound.

Δώρια (Doria)
Be in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are —
gaiety of flowers.
Have me in the strong loneliness
of sunless cliffs
And of grey waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter,
The shadowy flowers of Orcus
Remember Thee.

The title Doria references the classical Greek Doric forms of music and architecture, which were renowned for their austerity. Orcus was a god of the underworld who likely originated from Etruscan religion. In Roman beliefs, he represents the vengeful aspect of Death. Orcus could also be used for as a name for the underworld in general, so the shadowy flowers are those that are found in the land of the dead.

In the painting, the stern and unflinching bone contrasts with lively flowers dancing around the skull. As in the poem, this juxtaposition of hardness and softness, stillness and movement, creates a sense of flux, whilst simultaneously referencing the circle of life.