Archive for March 22nd, 2022

GC Myers- Soul Boat

Soul Boat, 2019

A sick man’s dreams are often extraordinarily distinct and vivid and extremely life-like. A scene may be composed of the most unnatural and incongruous elements, but the setting and presentation are so plausible, the details so subtle, so unexpected, so artistically in harmony with the whole picture, that the dreamer could not invent them for himself in his waking state, even if he were an artist like Pushkin or Turgenev. Such morbid dreams always make a strong impression on the dreamer’s already disturbed and excited nerves, and are remembered for a long time.

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

I came across the excerpt above from Crime and Punishment and it immediately sent me to the series that includes the painting above. The painting is Soul Boat from my Multitudes series from a few years back. The paintings consisted of crammed masses of black eyed –or eyeless, depending on how you see it– faces.

Many of the faces that pop up in this series have been living inside me for many years, maybe 50 or more. Reading Dostoyevsky‘s words made me wonder if they had lived on from nightmares, remnants of childhood fever dreams. I know that the other details in some of those dreams still feel as vivid as now as they did then.

Maybe that’s why these faces, as unpleasant as they often seem, have lived with me for most of my life.

It was an interesting series., one that was short lived. It emerged like a cloudburst, as though it had welled up and had to emerge. It hasn’t came back to me since that rather short period in 2019 but it’s still there.

Maybe welling up once more.

The piece at the top of this post, Soul Boat, now sits on a stand in front of my computer, never having found a home. It’s one of those paintings, like many in this series, where it truly feels fitting that it returns to me.

It has the feel of an uncomfortably personal piece, one that belongs only with me.

To be honest, for just that reason, I was surprised at how many of the pieces in this series found homes. With a few notable exceptions, the faces are not welcoming, pleasant, or sympathetic in any way. They often feel like tortured souls, perhaps representing the darker aspects that dwell in all of us.

Maybe that’s the purpose of these pieces, to serve as a reminder of those ugly parts of us that are never too far from the surface. Maybe even breaking the surface more often now.

I don’t know.

Emotionally, I like, maybe even love, these pieces and I don’t. Maybe I like them because they are part of me and, for that reason, I somewhat understand them on one hand even as I loathe them on another.

As I said, I don’t know if the series will ever continue or if it will be a prominent part of my work’s legacy, if there is one at all.

But the work haunts me enough that I felt the need to write about it today. Plus, I often find myself poring over one of these pieces, finding new details that escaped me even as I painted them. It sometimes fills me with an urge to start new ones, perhaps even larger.

But not quite yet. Perhaps there needs to be a little welling up. God knows that there is enough misery and trouble in this world to inspire such work.

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