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“The Way to Darkness”

June 1, 2011

"Camino a la oscuridad" (The Way to Darkness), oil on linen (triptych), 170x400cm

The initial idea

I have been gathering many ideas in form of sketches and texts for my new exhibition during many months. Now I am picking up a selection of them and, after many re-considerations and re-elaborations, one by one is taking shape on canvases.

One of the images that occurred to me for my “Journey of no Return” exhibition was a naked girl who has just stripped her clothes off and walks dangerously on a railway, defying death in front of her friends. After a few months, where I had been working on other paintings, I retook this scene and reconsidered it under a new light Read more… / Versión española…. I wanted to give the scene the power to evoke solitude and abandonment, so I finally portrayed the girl alone.

The painting deserved a big surface to be contemplated in a scale that would benefit the perception of its dramatic beauty, so I made it into a challenging triptych of 170x400cm.

A detail of the painting


A lo largo de varios meses he ido acumulando muchas ideas en forma de bocetos y textos para mi próxima exposición “Viaje de no retorno”. Ahora estoy seleccionando algunos de esos bocetos, reconsiderándolos y reelaborándolos y uno tras otros, se van convirtriendo en cuadros.

Una de las ideas que se me ocurrió para mi exposición “Viaje sin retorno” fue la de una chica desnuda que se acaba de desprender de su ropa y camina peligrosamente sobre la vía del tren desafiando a la muerte frente a sus amigos. Después de varios meses, en los que trabajé en otros cuadros, retomé esta idea y la reconsideré bajo otra luz. Quería que la escena evocase la soledad y el abandono así que, finalmente, pinté a la chica sola.

El cuadro necesitaba una superficie grande para que se pudiera percibir la escena en toda su dramática belleza, así que la he pintado en un tríptico de 170x400cm.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2011 15:39

    love this, keep making good art!

  2. Arata Yamamoto permalink
    June 1, 2011 22:50

    Lovely piece of work, Michele! I love the painting of the girl all alone, naked, risking death in the face of abandonment and solitude….

    Am I too wicked to imagine that – (a) her supposed “friends” throwing stones at her from behind to jeer her on the suicide path and a stream of blood out of her naked, by-now damaged body, or (b) showing just a stream of headlights off the (yet out-of-sight) incoming train with the naked girl seemingly aloof to it all – might make the senses of abandonment and solitude or social isolation to the max…??

    Oh, I’m so bad… :-((

    • June 3, 2011 16:00

      Thanks for your comment Arata.
      There are many ways of expressing an idea through images. You have the typical strong imagination of the craziest artists, luckily you are not in the horror movie industry, I can imagine the vexations the poor actors would suffer playing in your films… :)
      Instead I am more moderate, I like subtle implications in my paintings, with not too evident a meaning at first sight, not too shocking. I aim to suggest more than to tell, hopefully giving the viewer a wider spectrum of feelings and suggestions.

  3. June 3, 2011 16:25

    So we become the bystanders or friends?? Do I urge her on to possible death or close my eyes???

    • June 10, 2011 22:56

      Thanks for participating Jack.

      Yes, by omitting her friends, by not depicting them, our relation to the scene is less mediated and more direct, more intimate. We do not feel apart from what is happening, on the contrary, we feel that we are there, close to the girl, we are alone with her, the only “privileged” witnesses, we can even see ourselves in her if the scene touches our chords deep inside.
      So I hope that who will see my painting will not feel like closing his/her eyes, but compelled to reflection.

    • June 11, 2011 11:30

      You know Jack that your reflection reminds me of an important episode in the book, “The Fall” by Albert Camus?
      The main character, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, who had been a very successful and well respected judge-penitent, starts to feel the weight of guiltness in his conscience when one night, while walking alone on a bridge, he hears a woman throwing herself into the river. He freezes, not knowing what to do, while he hears the last screams of the suicidal woman. But he is not able to make a decision, whether to try and save her, which would take a dose of courage, effort and action, or to convince himself that nothing can be done anymore. Noticing that nobody is around but him, he decides to walk away and to forget the episode. This however will result in a feeling of loss of innocence and will be a constant reminder in his life of his guiltiness, causing his “fall from grace”, the crisis that will consume him and will open the way to a bitter view of himself and the human…

  4. Arata Yamamoto permalink
    June 3, 2011 17:54

    Thanks for your comment, Michele! Just in case, let me say that my ealier comment was not a criticism or anything like that. Beside, what do I know about art? Nothing :) I was just expressing my crazy feeling that the picture evoked in me.

    Nonetheless, I think the comment made by jack is in fact what I felt as well when I first looked at the picture. Is there a single message that you as an artist wanted to “share” with the audience or was it simply the intention of the artist to “evoke” a widest possible range of opinions using a picture? If it is the latter, then to what end?

    I think this is a typical difficulty “modernist” audiences, like jack and I, feel when they try to make sense of a “postmodernist” picture. How should an audience make sense of a picture when it is the aim of the painter deliberately to be ambigous about the message the picture sends?

    I would be really interested in what you think, Michele, from your, artist’s, perspective. How would you like your audience to make sense of the picture?

    • June 10, 2011 23:00

      I find this a very interesting in depth conversation Jack and Arata, thanks for proposing the questions.

      To answer properly, this question requires a special attention, so I will break my answer into various points:

      1: What my paintings are for me
      2: What my paintings are for the others
      3: How I want to communicate my message
      4: The message of “The Way to Darkness”
      5: The painting as just one piece in a whole project: What is “Journey of no Return”

      1 – My paintings are, first of all, the result of a need to express my feelings towards something that concerns me. By means of painting I give shape to my obsessions, my good and bad feelings, and in its act I take them from inside to outside. Art is, in this way, an act of self-discovery and liberation, in a way it is like a therapy.

      2 – As a creative, I chose what kind of codes I want to use to transmit a message but, as all processes of communication, that message will then need a receptor able to decodify it. It is like language, the speaker emits a message, the listener decodifies and understands it only if he shares the same codes with the speaker, that is to say if he talks the same language. Of course we are all different and the receptor’s reading of the message will be influenced by his/her own experience, knowledge and sensitivity. Art, however, is not a science, and that is what makes it great: it is freedom, flexibility, fluctuation of ideas around the sensible area of the human understanding.

      3 – If my pictures were composed with rigid and clear codes, there would be nothing more than the mere scene that I decided to represent. That would be poor and uninteresting to the receptor, the viewer, who would not need to make any effort and use his imagination and sensitivity to see beyond the obvious. On the contrary, by saying less you say more, you give the viewer more room for thought and you touch in everyone different chords.

      4 – In the case of this last painting of mine, I thought that I did not need any anecdotical element apart from the girl and the tunnel if I wanted to make the image more powerful. It was not important to paint her clothes on the floor, as I meant to do in the beginning, who cares when and where she got undressed? Who cares what she was wearing before? She is “a” girl hurt by life, walking with determination towards the darkness of the tunnel. In the same way, I also thought that I didn’t need to represent her friends there, she represents them already, she is one of them who has decided to experience the darkness perhaps in its ultimate meaning. “We”, as onlookers, become her friends, we can even identify with her, we can even become her and, witnessing her gesture, ask ourselves why we are doing that.

      5 – However, you have also to take in consideration that you will see more clearly what the common thread and the message is in my new paintings when I complete all the pieces that will compose my new exhibition project “Journey of no Return”.
      In way of anticipation I can tell you that the project is in general a melancholic and angry view of a certain youth (and not only youth…) that sees no bright future in front of them. I am trying to depict the abandonment, the void, the feeling of deception and loss, in some cases the degeneration in behaviour that comes from their lack of perspectives for their future, an image that is antithetical to the happy picture that the capitalist world creates around them to direct their aspirations. They have already fallen down, they go astray and their journey will not admit a return, that’s why I named it “Journey of no Return”.

  5. June 29, 2011 11:55

    Me quito el sombrero, MAESTRO, …. Entiendo que tengas más tiempo de dedicación a los cuadros. Acabo de ver los bocetos de los coches ….. Fantástico ¡¡¡ A partir de ahora estoy subscrito a este blog.
    Un abrazo.

  6. July 1, 2011 10:12

    Sí Juanjo, hay muchísimos estudios detrás de cada imágen de cada cuadro, eso hace que cada uno de ellos sea un pequeño proyecto dentro del proyecto mayor que es el tema expositivo. La pintura es solamente una de las fases, pero el encanto del trabajo creativo se extiende en todo el conjunto del proceso.
    Bienvenido Juanjo, un abrazo!

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