October 27, 2020

Does the struggle against covid-19 cause alienation and existential angst and feel like the Myth of Sisyphus was a premonition?

Brian C. Young

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Acrylic on canvas.The Myth of Sisyphus, 202062 x 62 cms

I believe that abstract painting can sometimes have profound meaning and narrative qualities. My task as an expressive painter is to accurately convey my feelings and give voice visually to the workings of my own subconscious. Lockdown has affected my equilibrium, mentally, and in particular the idea that no matter how careful we all are, how much we do, the virus can quickly re-appear. I researched the myth of Sisyphus, who was forced to roll a boulder up a hill only for it to roll back down again. So to accurately reflect my Sisyphean task, I had to somehow convey the qualities of angst, alienation and isolation I was experiencing. This I did by going deeper into my (normal) meditative practice in front of the blank canvas, and by deciding to be more gestural in my initial mark-making using charcoal sticks. I then erased the charcoal except for a trace and used these marks to form the design. I decided my colour palette was going to be representative of my mood swings during the pandemic, so the colours are contrapuntal warms and cools fighting for attention. Sisyphus was punished for his craftiness. I hope I’m not.