Chamber 51

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.


  1. Isaiah Sullivan says:

    Great to see what lays beneath the mind of this painting! The Dali homage is quite cool, but then gets weaved in by the spider web, as it evolves, quite interesting. I love the glass of red wine spilling, also a Daliesque thumbs up! Keep up the coolness! Peace , i!