Falls the Shadow is a work that I created for the group exhibition “INSPIRATION: The Durban Art gallery Archive Show”, curated by Amy-Jo Windt at artSPACE durban, in March, 2011.
A group of prominent Kwazulunatal artists were asked to select a work from the Durban Art Gallery archives and use that work as inspiration for a new, original work. I chose Wyndham Lewis’s portrait of T.S. Elliot.
About “Falls the Shadow”:
My love of T S Eliot’s work began in high school. In my fourth year of study at art school, I worked with The Wasteland and The Four Quartets, visually exploring his symbology, his metaphors and the images conjured up by his poetry. I have revisited his work occasionally, over the past twenty years, exploring his ideas of time and mortality, past and future and the way he literally archives moments that connect the two. It is primarily my fascination with Eliot, and my desire to revisit his work with more intensity, that drew me to select Wyndham Lewis’ portrait: T S Elliot.
I began my research with the artist and writer, Wyndham Lewis. He and Eliot have a lot of commonality in their work, especially the fact that they both lived through two world wars that formed the backdrop to and informed a lot of their work. I also used, as a resource, original inserts from the New York Times that documented WW1 on a weekly basis. One of these photographic images is the source for the red landscape in this piece. I returned to Eliot’s works, re-reading all his poems in their entirety and returning to them fragmentally throughout my process of creating my own ‘portrait’ of T S Eliot.
Portraiture attempts to capture the essence or some sense of a person. I wanted to do this with Eliot, without painting a portrait. I wanted to explore and convey a sense of Eliot, the person; a man exploring his own mortality against the backdrop of a world between two wars. I did not wish to simply paint a war painting, or illustrate a poem, but rather convey a sense of the poet himself by utilizing some of the metaphors in his work that resonated for me.
This work also afforded me the opportunity to continue engaging with some of the technical concerns and issues I am constantly working with – memory; working with past, present and future; reverence and irreverence; sacredness and violation; the living and the dead; the profound and the mundane.