Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka)

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka)
Acrylic on canvas 42" x 32"
March 2016
My 2nd completed work for 2016 is a study of one part of a tripartite statue that I extensively photographed in late December last year in the Cairo Museum.

Said statue is the coronation of Ramses III where the king is being blessed by Set and Heru. This same piece was also a focus for my 2013 painting, The Artist As Beloved Of Heru And Set, which was included in the Blake Prize Director's Cut that year. Unlike the 2013 work however, the focus of my latest is on Set exclusively.

In my opinion this is the most exquisite statue of this god remaining from antiquity. I wanted to capture it from as many angles as I could, and the photography amnesty at the Cairo Museum (a major reason for going there late last year / earlier this one) permitted this. It was something I had dreamed about doing up to that point. And photograph away, I did.

My restless ka flew to the Cairo museum, and in a whirlwind of breathless amazement, left with inspirations for many new works . . . . the first of which I feature here
The selected colours
My painting features only a handful of colours. The statue itself is rendered in Red Oxide and Burnt Umber - colours I likely would never have used had I not began studying Iconography painting last year. Indigo and 4 shades of purple (ultraviolet, 2 types of light violet, and a white violet blend) make up the rest of the palette.

Burnt Umber captures the colour of the actual granite statue itself, whilst the Red Oxide captures the inner fire of the statue that I felt in its presence. These colours interact well with one of the two Light Violets that I have utilized. The main Light Violet used in the background is the colour of the walls in the part of the museum where the statue is situated, and actually weaves through the statues in my painting upon closer inspection.

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail
Serpents, iconography
I became intrigued by friezes of serpents as I toured the country; a particular collection (featured below) that was in the outdoor museum of the Temple Of HetHrt in Dendera inspired the top frame of this painting.

The frieze of cobras that lay outside in the grounds of the Temple Of HetHrt at Dendera
I spent a great deal of time searching out Set's icon in the cartouches of Seti I in the outdoor ruins of Karnak Temple, as well as at Seti I's mortuary temple in Qurna (Western Thebes). These are featured in the bottom frame of the painting.

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail
The symbols in between each Set glyph are not hieroglyphs: they are a rendering of a decorative pattern I saw in the Cairo Museum. I find that place enchanting and wanted to include something of it as a homage to that iconic place, the current "temple" that houses all the wonders of Netjer that we admire today. I feel that this and the use of the wall colour in the painting satisfy that want.

A frieze that I noticed high above the staircases in the Cairo museum; a rendering of this decoration is included in my painting
The title of the painting
Who are we?
What are we?
Where are we?

These questions have plagued me since I was an infant. Whilst the search that they fuel has not always been centre front of my life, it has been there enough for me to know that it's always been there. It has created an insomnia in my being that often makes it hard for me to "fall in" with the flow of day to day material life . . .

As I face these questions rather in a more confrontational manner  now, my painting is an answer; this rendering of a relic of antiquity: a tale in paint of a near forgotten god - if not a misunderstood one - from one of the greatest civilizations our world has known.

My Netjer, my namesake (the second painting I have "signed"), a god of chaos, a god of magick, a dazzling god. A god of great strength. My ka can not rest . . . . until I know the answers to these questions. Until I know my Netjer . . . . My spiritual insomnia persists.

Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail
The emblem on the front doorway of the Cairo Museum
Spiritual Insomnia (My Restless Ka) detail

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