The Meaning Behind 'The Seventh Gate' Part 1

Normally in these posts, where I look at the meaning behind my paintings, I first write about my own experience and then detail how this fits in with the piece of art. For this final painting in the Seven Gates series, I'm going to do something different: I'll start by looking at the various elements in the image and then I'll talk about my experience in the next post to see their relevance.

Probably the first thing that you'll notice about this painting is the red circle. If you're familiar with the rest of my work, you'll know that the worlds I paint tend to be lacking in colour. Most are grey, to be exact. So this splash of red may be a surprise. I've composed the image so that this red circle is the focal point. Wherever you let your eyes roam, they will always return to this point.

Just as the viewer is drawn to the red light, so is this small figure in the lower area of the image. Although he is not immediately apparent, the contrast between him and the red platform will eventually draw your eye to him.

The pose of each creature suggests someone reaching out for a welcoming and comforting hug. Yet the twisted nature of the torso and head hint more at being smothered and crushed like a Boa Constrictor would. I designed the creatures with the idea of obsession forefront in my mind. I worked again with free association in the planning process and the words that repeatedly appeared were 'tornado', 'whirlpool' and 'black hole'. So I used the idea of two curved lines continually twisting downwards as the basis for my design. I also played about with the location of the ribs and pelvis to suggest that the bones are moving fluidly within the creatures' bodies and constantly shifting.

Some other common themes that were evident in the free association phase were: hospitals, needles and scalpels. In keeping with this, the building is based on architectural elements from Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

I based the ends of the spikes on the building on the exact shape of scalpels.

And the main tower was also based on two parallel scalpels.

One feature of the building which probably won't be apparent is the use of the golden ratio. This idea comes from mathematics but is often used in pieces of art. Its use gives objects and images a visually pleasing aesthetic. I wanted the building to be a contradiction between a place the viewer finds appealing and something disturbing and oppressive. The golden ratio made it appealing and the colour scheme, size and shapes gave it the other qualities. This is all well and good, but it was a pain to plan all of this out using the golden ratio.

The last visual element - and again, it was a complete pain to work like this - is the symmetry of the image. I wanted the composition of the painting to focus the viewer towards the red light. The symmetry makes it feel as though there isn't another option than looking at the centre.

And yet, it's not perfectly symmetrical. But more on that next time.

So those are the main elements of the image. I'll let you consider the meaning of the painting. What would happen if the figure walked on to the red platform? What is the significance of the medical imagery? Why isn't the image perfectly symmetrical? I'd be interested to read any comments you have on the subject.

See you next time where the meaning will become clear.

For Part 2, Click Here.

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