Oil painting on canvas, 30” x 24”, August 2017
This is my first painting after more than a year and a half of time spent with other things. The long inactivity made me nervous and with a feeling of guilt for not painting so, once when I started my work, everything changed and I became satisfied by the sheer fact of sitting at the easel again.
As with most of my paintings I decided to make something different from my previous works. My first thought was about Gregor Samsa’s famous transformation in Franz Kafka’s story from which the painting’s title was borrowed. Soon I parted from Kafka and stretched my thinking from the individual to the level of all of humanity. This is not an optimistic story; maybe not even a story. This is not a lament, nor a warning or a prophecy. It probably is closest to an ironic scoff at an imperfect creation. Still some elements of a story exist but they were not put in the usual order for a story but rather as a parable with some missing parts (to be created and put in by the viewer). The beginning is in the very center of the image where we are witnessing a violent act. From there the “narration” develops in the circular waves to which some may see a Dantean quality. The initial act is witnessed with the apostolic number of creatures already affected by the metamorphosis; they don’t seem to be pertaining to the event(s); they sit in some kind of a limbo, hanging in the air, affected by something that may look like an electrifying occurrence. Are they the next round of the sacrifices or just an excuse for a future theological explanation of the past? According to this story WE will not be the ones who will be asked for the explanation. Everything here is seen through the mosaic vision of the insect-humanoid bastard (as suggested by the geometrical pattern of the background). Most of the small imperfections in the picture are left on purpose to suggest the quality of the final product of the metamorphoses and also to break up the monotony of the repetitive imagery.
A few more words on the formal side: First, the bugs. Why the insects? The answer is simple: I was fascinated by their look: so beautiful and plentiful in the form and color. I wanted to have them in my painting. However, their role here is generic, not individual. There is no meaning behind choosing particular insects. What is important are their colors – blue and red mixed into the purple thus suggesting the metamorphosis.
Another important influence in this work was the fractals. The echo of those digital repetitive images stretched in chains, spirals, circles, etc., is obvious in the kaleidoscopic repetitive details of the painting.
The picture itself is far from being a landscape or a group portrait: it rather resembles a religious icon or a heraldic statement. It starts in the center and develops as a burst rather than in a linear sequence. The initial action produced a number of concentric circles tending to continue infinitely. To stop that development and finish the “story” the elliptic line of the creatures was created around the edges of the canvas.
Of course, the world surrounding us was another inevitable influence. If one sees a bit of craziness or even madness in this painting it is simple because it reflects the things happening to us at this time and there’s nothing new about it; it happened before and many paintings from the past are the witnesses. Only this time it is the turn on the insects to tell the story similar to those already told, among others, by Bosch, Brueghel, Goya or the Dada.