• gpward68

The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place. 2022.

‘Hiding’ refers to R. L Stephenson’s Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. The half-obscured words “The Strange Door” are the title of another Stephenson story, adapted into a gothic film starring Boris Karloff. The Gothic or late Gothic sensibility runs through quite a lot my work, mainly because of that genre’s perverse romance, dark passions and mortal anguish (although the paintings might not seem to take it that seriously).

Agonised ardour is here subdued as it is transformed into the shadowy figure on the far left, possibly Jekyll, one of his gentleman visitors, or indeed any ‘mad doctor’ (as embodied in the test tube imagery): the obsessive medic (Franju’s Eyes Without a Face for example) is often at the mercy of a love which is transgressive but rationally applied. His romantic 'madness' is distributed from the coated figure at left and disseminated/ displaced across other images and suggestions in the work,

Looking desirously is thematised in the keyhole motif, as well as the eye near the centre (which belongs to Ingmar Bergman in a poster for a film adaptation of Jekyll). Jekyll’s lab (and his ‘strange door’) can be read as his closet, or as the libido unchained; but Hyde can also be reconfigured as an idea of ‘woman’ to which the Doctor aspires (as in, e.g the film Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde).

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