love in Our valley (love in the valley of the shadow of death)
finished May 2010
Oil, house paint, acrylic on canvas
44.5 x 76 x 2 inches
© Matthew Adam
What does it mean to truly mirror and marry the feeling of an image with it's ultimate message? The "Valley of the Shadow of Death" is a small phrase packed with excessive dramatic possibilities, put aside the religious implications for now. In looking at past works that refer to the end of the world, or similarly dramatic biblical references, the beautifully composed and naturalistic scenes painted of them throughout history don't resonate with the subject in a natural way. Beautiful as they may be and apt for their time period (such as The Deluge by Francis Danby). Should chaos not look like chaos, uncomposed, or at the very least, unsettled? Hell should look like hell, not fire perse. Death should look as death is, cold and uncompromising, unloving and empty and not embellished or fanciful. Not romanticized. The place in history of a work betrays it, should the artist identify too closely with the predominant style or be otherwise unable to escape time. The aesthetic alone has a natural mirror to the meaning of the image. Despite the allure of working in one's own time, being true to an image does not often go hand in hand with devotion to a particular style, era, or movement. Unless the composition and subject matter lie within the small confines of what that movement allows art to be made of. The concept holds true for other messages and the ways in which they can be visually honored. I attempt to create and form my images from the very stuff their messages are made of, and outside of what I am capable of brushing, what I am comfortable with, what I know and don't know. I seek to join the work where it exists, not tear it down to the places I know and can fit it into with the limits of my time and mind. This clearly invites the strong possibility of weakness or failure should the unknown betray me, and I embrace that as an inevitability no more or less equal to the truth of being human. So be it.
In the case of this particular work I found no better way to express what I wanted to say than to attempt to create the most discordant collection of organized surroundings I could, while trying to very lightly hint at the puppetry of it all. It has depth, and seems so local in places. It has color, but no color map, and yet the chaos makes sense as a singular entity. It has form but the only form to be truly understood is the figures front and center and the other figures solely placed in order to help scale the central figures. Everything else is a "may or may not be" purposeful illusionistic nest surrounding the figures. The ambiguity to match the unease of the figures in the story behind the image.