Here’s a painting seventeen years in the making!
I stretched the canvas myself in 1995 and created what could only be described as a juvenile homage to Dali’s landscapes. It really was quite awful and I only saved it because it seemed like a waste to throw away such a massive canvas. In the early 2000s, I decided to start working on it again. The photo on the right was taken just before I started, so you can see what it looked like originally (and you can see my cat peeking out from behind it). I blanked out vast sections of it, kept some parts like the black mask, a couple of fish, the sky and the stereo, then abandoned it.
In late 2010 I started working on it again. This time I decided I needed to break it up into sections, so I used masking tape and created random sections. The sections ended up looking like a spider web. The mask became an eye. Then I shelved it again. Wish I had a photo of it from this time but I can’t find any.
Finally in late 2011, I decided to get serious about completing it. The spider web thing wasn’t really working, and at the time I was trying to pick out wood flooring, so I had wood grain on my mind and wanted to paint wood, so I turned the web into wood. I had also just finished painting hundreds of tentacles for Gorgonomcephalus, so some tentacles were laid down on the left side, which eventually turned green and became vines. I wasn’t really feeling up for painting leaves even though the vines needed something. The painting seemed to missing reds – I wanted deep, bright reds, so I added the chillies, still avoiding having to paint leaves. I liked the way the red chillies looked, started craving more red. Poured myself a glass of wine while I sat there trying to figure out how to add more red…
So the painting is finally done – many disparate elements, not really sure if it “works” to be honest, but there it is. I was struggling with a name for it so I asked my friends to suggest one. My friend Arish Dastur came up with the name “Chamber 51” – I really like the name because it doesn’t try to reference anything in the painting or tie anything together. It just adds another layer to it – pretty appropriate for a painting that just grew out of disparate ideas. Also makes me think I may be painting a few other chambers soon.