Friday, 29 May 2015

Material Immortality

This is the story of my first complete work of 2015, Material Immortality.

Material Immortality; acrylic on linen 40" x 60"
My latest painting has taken the longest to complete of my works so far, with almost 10 months since the canvas was first prepared to when it was sealed with varnish. It has taken 3 residence changes, and gone through a name transformation.

When I was 19 or 20 I bought and read the two Her Bak volumes. The 2nd volume featured on the cover a work by Lucy Lamy that fascinated me entitled "Psychostasia". It is a Greek word that means "the weighing of souls", and featured a beautifully rendered painting of Ausar judging the deceased in the Duat. I believe that subconsciously this art has influenced Material Immortality.

This is the frontispiece of Her Bak: Egyptian Initiate, and is half the painting made by Lucy Lamy named "Psychostasia"
The featured Netjeru
There are 8 Netjeru directly depicted in the painting; all are glyphed with the exception of Nehebukau who appears as winged and two headed at the top of the sarcophagus. Nekhbet is featured twice.
The other deities are Hehu, Khepera, Set, Sopdu, Sopdet and Sokar.  The lion lid represents multiple male lion Netjeru - Nefertum, Apademak, Maahes, Shezmu, and Hutchaiui.

Description of the artwork
The piece centres on two primary figures: The Great Netjer Khepera - Netjer of existence, transformation and change - administering transformational energy to a sarcophagus. The lion lidded sarcophagus represents the physical form of a being, and the enshrined mummiform entities depicted on the side are the other 8 "bodies" comprising the living entity. I discuss this aspect of the painting in greater detail in "Kemetic Soul Anatomy" further on.

Detail of sarcophagus in Material Immortality
The lid also features an effigy of The Great Goddess Nekhbet in a position of protection. Nekhbet also oversees the process from the top left corner. The image of the lion effigy protected by Nekhbet is taken directly from the Temple of Seti I in Abydos, and the sarcophagus echoes the alabaster one that this pharaoh was originally buried in, now in the John Soanes Museum in London.

The alabaster coffin that Seti I was buried in, now in the John Soane's Museum in London
The Netjer of eternity, Hehu, sits between the wings of Khepera.

Detail of the Netjer Hehu
The Netjeru Sopdet and Sopdu - the Sothic star energy (which is visible with the ankhs in the divine beam coming from Khepera's ankh below them) are represented with Sutekh: immortal Netjer and Great of Magick.

Detail of the Netjeru Sutekh, Sopdu and Sopdet
Sokar sits below the piece as Netjer of the underworld and representing the hidden processes of the alchemy that the painting reveals. These latter 4 Netjeru are wearing garments of contraction as the process is realized in material form.

Detail of the Netjer Sokar
The two plant (papyrus and lotus) emblems of Ancient Kemet are represented in the background in a fashion I began with a work from last year, Mer Wer, and again reflected in the emblem at the bottom corner of Khepera's throne.

Kemetic Soul Anatomy and Physical Immortality
Physical Immortality is a subject that has occupied me for some time (see this post, and this one). I believe that the direct way to fully realize this state is by understanding soul anatomy, and believe that the ancients knew this at some point in their long civilization along with other technology that now eludes us.

This work is an artistic rendering of soul anatomy as expressed through Ancient Kemetic texts, and represents my current understanding of this complex subject. I had conceived a painting about Soul Anatomy some time ago, but the subject eluded me much and the concept for the painting evolved too many times for it to be rendered physically in art or intellectualized in further blog posts: I never followed up with further blogs on the matter, as the painting itself has done that.

Various researchers and Egyptologists put the soul anatomy component toll at differing figures: 5, 7 and 8 are common. I suggest 9 with my painting, and that includes the physical body (represented by the coffin lid entity)  and the "energy" sekhem (featured as one of the 8 shrine bodies).

As mentioned previously, the soul components are represented by mummiform beings inside open shrines, another inspiration form the coffin of Seti I, which also featured bright blue hieroglyphs on the then white alabaster when it was first discovered.

The soul parts from left to right top first are:
Akh
Sekhem
Ba
Sahu
Ka
Khaibit
Ab
Ren
The Khat itself is represented by the lion headed lid and is designated so just under Nekhbet's wing. A simple understanding of the meanings of each can be found in the aforementioned blog post

The Hieroglyphs
Again, I commissioned Tamara Siuda to render the texts I wanted for the painting into Ancient Kemetic, as well as to check that I had the orientation of the texts correctly on the piece, and the Netjeru's names and the soul names correct.

The texts (from top left) read:

The Great Goddess Nekhbet in her glory blesses this process



The Great God Khepera activates this one with His divine transformative power


Behold my Akh
Behold my Ka
Behold my Sekhem
Behold my Khaibit 
Behold my Ba
Behold my Ab
Behold my Sahu 
Behold my Ren
Behold my Khat


Divinely activated my wings grow and I metamorphose into a starry being like Netjer
These things a million times true


The glyphs next to each of the smaller featured Netjeru say Their names:
Sutekh, Sopdu, Sopdet, Hehu, Sokar.


Jean Michel Bitar
An author from Portugal contacted me a year ago to say that he had read my blog and had written a book with very similar ideas to mine on Physical Immortality. Jean Michel Bitar had written "Material Immortality*" and sent it to me not long after I had begun rendering this painting onto the canvas; at the time it was named "Animation Of The Human Machine" . I liked his book - and the title - so much I began referencing the painting first as:
Animation Of The Human Machine (Material Immortality)
then
Animation Of The Human Machine  / Material Immortality
and finally
Material Immortality.
*Jean Michel has since renamed this book, and my strong feeling is that the name of it originally was meant to inspire me to name my painting the same

Material Immortality is acrylic on canvas 60" x 40"

Detail of the Netjer Khepera

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Jackal Gods



It interests me when people gift me Kemetic things. I am not the easiest person to buy for, so if I receive something that really floats my boat it is significant.

I received within a 4 day period in this last week 2 gifts of jackal Netjeru: a beautiful portrait of Anpu (called "Guide Dog") by my friend artist Paul Compton, and a particularly well rendered statue of Duamutef (bought from the Egyptian Museum in Turin) from a client.

"Guide Dog" by Paul Compton
Interestingly, these gifts coincide with finding and securing a new home - a process that has been long, exhausting and not terribly pleasant. I received Paul's gift on Friday (I had submitted my application to secure house), and Duamutef on Monday (I was informed I was successful in securing said house). As a primary purpose of getting this home was to have a room specifically for painting in, I can't help but feel the Netjeru's blessing in all this. (Of note also is that the place I "began" my painting in 4 years ago I felt I was led to by Wepwawet).

I first saw the Anpu portrait in Paul's exhibition in 2012 and wrote about it here. Paul and I had struck up a friendship when I frequented the art supplies store he works in and has been a solid "art" friend since. By this I mean we go to exhibitions of interest together, he guides me with arts technique and product I have no clue about, and is a supporter of my work, as I am his.

My client that gifted me Duamutef went to Italy recently for the Bienniale, and I joked that he should go to Turin - home of the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt - and get me a gift. He had not planned on going to Turin and by a strange twist of fate ended up there with friends. They all visited the museum (I have seen the pictures and videos he took and it is AMAZING there) and he bought me the statue presented here.




Dua Anpu!
Dua Duamutef!