I enjoyed very much ‘Renaissance Unchained’ a series of short films broadcast on the BBC in 2016 by Waldemar Januszczak, so much so that I was inspired to paint something that felt related to this early but hugely important era in the story of art. I finished this painting sometime back in in 2016.
So what’s the painting about, the short answer is look at it how you want, it is certainly meant to be curious and humorous. Bearing in mind that I use allegory to reveal my inner thoughts, you could look at it thus, as if analysing a renaissance allegory – there are symbols everywhere.
The helmet, at this period in history, (it surely has to be a helmet for battle and a particularly fine one) represents here, man’s lust for power, a flawed idea, the character from Bosch’s ‘Last Judgement’ exits stage left, knowing the stupidity and in the same moment realising the shallow vanity of the idea.
Or – perhaps the helmet is hiding man’s darkest flaws, trying to keep them secret from his peers. Once again the curious character has seen it all before and runs off ashamed of what is hiding in mankind’s shadowy psyche. And talking of shadows, the setting, a cave perhaps, underground, adds to the mystery, as the flickering torch light illuminates but darkly, the tragi-comic scene.
On the technical side, it is Oil on Panel 40cm x 30 cm. I prepare the wood panels to a very high standard, coating them with a chalk gesso that I make up here, based on a renaissance recipe. I apply six or so coats of gesso, sanding between each to arrive at a silky flat even surface, perfect for painting detail. The painting was realised using Alchemist Mediums products and finished with two coats of amber varnish.
The only thing I am not too happy with is the amount of dust and general crap that fixed itself to the surface. I am going through the process of laser eye surgery to correct cataracts and last year as I painted it, I was having particular problems with slight double vision and poor contrast. So I missed quite a few specs of crud that I would have normally removed. C’est la vie.