Acrylic on board, 21″ x 27″
A small black and white illustration reproduced in The Emblem by John Manning was the inspiration. In the original, the eye appears somewhat hairy and the square format frames the landscape of a steep hill with a bridge. The simplicity of an eye in the clouds, floating over the landscape, was irresistible so I appropriated the idea.
…around the beginning of the sixteenth century, a number of essentially new symbolic forms were invented or rediscovered. Variously described as “impress” – emblems, iconologies or symbologies…”mythologia”, or hieroglyphs …these works collectively bear witness to a systematic programme of composing, compiling, transposing and recording allegorical imagery. In 1419, a manuscript [by Horapollo], purporting to be the key in deciphering Egyptian mysteries [was discovered] and represented a huge increase in the repertory of interpreted images. It turned out to be a late antique forgery, and the meanings it assigns are ingenious fantasies. But the Renaissance regarded it with unquestioning belief as a sacred text on the basis of which a lexicon of visual symbols could be generated. Writers of emblems could not help but be drawn to this cognate body of symbolism. The illustrated editions of Horapollo attest to a visual culture that represented the perceived universe in quite different ways. Amputated body parts – hands, head, feet, ears, – are wrested from their normal context, and hang in the sky above a miniaturized landscape that stretches beneath. They inhabit a conceptual rather than a naturalistic space. This dislocating strategy was a challenge to the observer to interpret the world from a non-mimetic perspective.
John Manning, ‘The Emblem’
So, an image which I considered to be quite surreal, turned out to be an historical combination of fabricated definitions of hieroglyphs and random juxtapositions of disturbing images assigned by the publishers and artists of the time. In 2012, “Eye in the Sky” was included in the California Open at TAG Gallery, Santa Monica, CA.