Deep Waters

2016 113 x 95 cms.

Narcissus was out hunting one day when Echo saw and fell in love with him. She followed him and talked with him. She had never seen anyone as beautiful and declared her love for him. When he rejected her she was broken hearted and disappeared leaving only her voice. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, punished Narcissus by leading him to a pool in which he saw an image so beautiful he became enchanted and visited the pool daily to gaze at it. Ultimately he realized that the image couldn’t love him or exist independently of his act of looking at it. His love was obsessive and unrequited. He was enthralled by a reflection, a reversed image he hadn’t seen before, not as he knew himself to be. The story of Narcissus has special appeal to realist artists and he has sometimes been regarded as the inventor of painting.

Renaissance theorist Albertis explained, ’What is painting but the act of embracing by means of art the surface of the pool?’  I’d considered alternate reflected images in the water. What would a contemporary Indigenous youth see? Perhaps a landscape at variance with that surrounding him? Possibly ghosted members of an earlier generation. I wanted to say something about the confusion confronting the present generation, the welter of imagery arriving through social media, the loss of language and relevance of much old story, the displacement from traditional ‘country’. When Jason Webb and I arrived at Wigley’s Waterhole where I’d planned the setting, recent rain had stirred the water and inadvertently, provided the answer. Jason’s reflection would be muddied.