I hope you are very well.
This is something that I have wanted to bring into the world for a long time and its finally come to fruition! I could not be more fulfilled to offer this here to you.
As many of you may have noticed, I spend a lot of time detailing my
imagery. This is primarily a result of seeking to highlight important
elements, to organize unresolved chaos and to tie up loose ends in the
emergent story behind each work. Intense focus upon the smallest
aspects and unseen magic within a piece can lend dimensions of
authenticity overlooked by casual viewers. To elucidate these arcane
and under-appreciated labors I have composed this comprehensive
breakdown of one of my better known album covers.
I treat my art in the same way that Michelangelo treated his marble
sculptures: I believe that the image and story are already there and it
is my responsibility, as the craftsman, to coax and knead them out of
their substrate. Often times there will be very deep, esoteric
connections between elements that can only be understood under
auspicious circumstances in the mind of the viewer. At other salient
moments, a high level of occulted intuition is required of the viewer in
order to see the work correctly. Suduaya’s “Venus” cover is one of the
clearest examples of how I encode and compose my images in order to
maximize meaning and create lasting impact.
Below I will delineate several key factors underpinning the
composition of “Venus”. The scope of concepts ranges from the
astronomical to the astrological to the mythical. Some of these
elements were consciously incorporated and some of them occurred by
happy accident resulting in a series of “Aha!” moments. But all were
created upon a firm faith in the spiritual mechanics of unfolding
manifestation and with high symbolic literacy; always with pure hope to
evoke the fullness of her majesty, Venus.
And so… it begins:)
Obviously, the first objective was to create an image that did justice
to both the music and the title of the album. Suduaya (meaning “White
Brother” in Sri Lankan Sinhalese) wanted to shoot for a visual
representation of the colorful melodies that weaved his album together
so intelligently. We needed to convey all that Venus represents through
a visual labyrinth of intertwining meaning; a maze of symbolic beauty.
A series of key insights encoded into the artwork would mirror the
clever arrangement of the psychedelic qualia inherent in each track. We
decided that the best way to capture the essence of all that Venus is,
was to personify the goddess, herself, and to massage in as many of her
symbols as possible. So, let’s see how this all works together:)
Building a composition upon a fundamental grid or ratio, known as an
Armature, is a critical component of some of the most enduring works of
art. The artist’s first marks upon their panel were often made in order
to divide the substrate in a way that emphasized visual hierarchy and
maximum balance. The armature would supply a series of “containers”
meant to hold greater or lesser elements according to the dynamic
movement inherent in the armature. This process of creating an unseen
yet perceived skeletal structure for the painting to be built upon was
enacted through mathematical relationships, ratios and rules, i.e. the
Golden Ratio or the “Rule of Thirds”.
For Venus, I thought it most fitting to use the pentagram as her
armature. My reasoning hinged upon what is known as the “5 petals of
Venus” or the “Pentagram of Venus” (seen in the diagram below).
“It’s called the pentagram of Venus, because it has 5
‘lobes’ where Venus makes its closest approach to Earth. At each closest
approach, Venus moves backwards compared to its usual motion across the
sky: this is called retrograde motion.”
– https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com › 2014/01/04 › the-pentagram-of-venus
Looking back to the pentagram armature overlaying my image above, you
can see how the composition fits very kindly with each section of the
star. The features of the goddess’ face sit snugly into the pentagon in
the center and each secondary and tertiary section is composed in a way
that adheres to the armature. This creates visual hierarchy,
emphasizes harmony and ties the cornucopia of stimuli together through
Venus was the Roman’s goddess of Love. She was an adaptation of the
Greek goddess Aphrodite who was known for her many affairs with various
gods. She suffered dearly for her passion and was ultimately cursed by
Zeus who would extend her passion even to humans. As a revered goddess
she was brimming with vanity and demanded worship from humans who would
be severely punished should they choose otherwise. Over time, Venus
(Aphrodite) became well known and feared for her darker aspects.
In her book, Tragic Beauty, Arlene Landau describes for us the potent
beauty of the Golden Goddess, Venus, and her dark effect on women who
identify too closely with this archetype. Her secrets lie in wait to
manifest with the curses of time.
“The myths tell us that Aphrodite’s [Venus’] qualities are
essential for the joy of life, but the shadow side of [Venus] manifests
when a woman is completely identified with [Venus’] powers, when other
archetypal qualities of the feminine are unimportant to her. The
tragedies that result from this are the subject of numerous well-known
novels and films and exemplified in the lives of certain actresses and
other celebrities, all considered here.
The dark side of the pursuit of beauty is especially
apparent with aging, when the [Venus] woman must become something other
than a source of beauty or dwindle to a bitter and lonely end. Those
whose lives have been wounded by the shadow side of [Venus]—or those who
do not have enough of [Venus] joy in their personal makeup—may find
understanding and rebirth through the consciousness gained in this
real-life exploration of an ideal that has ballooned into a distortion.
In these times, when the idolization of [Venus]—and the tragedy that
ensues—are perhaps more widespread than ever, the crucial key for women
– Arlene Diane Landau “Tragic Beauty”
It was very important to me to depict this strong split in the
personality of the goddess as it is fundamental to both the Roman
mythology and matrix of Greek myth out which Venus was born. I divided
her features directly down the middle using value shifts and color
temperature. In addition, I added her associated symbols of the dove’s
wing (love) on her light eye and the bee’s wing (fertility) on her dark
Astrology, Astronomy and the Symbol of Woman
We have come to regard the circle atop a cross as the universal
symbol for everything female. Interestingly, this is also the official
symbol for the planet, Venus, and the ancient astrological sign for the
planet Venus when charting its influence upon time.
The roots of this symbol reach back to Aphrodite’s Mirror in ancient
Greece and then continue even into the depths of ancient Sumerian lore,
with Venus’ earliest recorded predecessor, Goddess Inanna (Ishtar)
“Queen of Heaven”.
Venus with a Mirror by Titian —
Aphrodite with Mirror – Ancient Greece —
Inanna with Mirrors – Ancient Sumer —
I’ll leave you to ponder the symbolic placement and positioning of each of the 3 Mirrors in my version of Venus:)
A Bull, A Seashell and a Planet on Fire
Though there are a variety of symbols present throughout the work, I
would like to highlight a few that sum up the scope and dimensions of
contemplation behind the creation of this piece.
Bull’s Sky – The Astrological
The Astrological sign of Taurus, the bull, is associated with and
governed by the effects of the planet Venus. Taurus is represented here
by a single bull’s horn. I have placed it on the light side of Venus’
crown for personal significance.
Born of Sea Foam – The Mythological
Aphrodite was the Greek model of the Roman’s Venus. She
was born, fully formed from sea foam after the semen of Uranus fell
from his castrated penis, into the ocean. The Seashell is a call to
this and an homage to the great work entitled “The Birth of Venus” by
The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli —
The Hottest Goddess – The Astronomical
Venus is the 2nd planet from the Sun and also the hottest in the
solar system due its proximity to the Sun and an impenetrable layer of
heat- trapping greenhouse gases. The planet is depicted in the bottom
left of the image and is simply an embellished NASA photograph painted
up to fit into the scene. The least amount of work was invested into
this area as it is there simply as a backdrop for the album title and to
provide context for the magnitude of the goddess herself. The planet
is an inhospitable shit hole at present and therefore is treated with
the least amount of creativity compared to the rest of the image. I was
intending to reflect reality with this tongue-in-cheek solution:)
Yet Another Layer of Meaning
The final insight that I will leave you with, hoping that you have
maintained interest thus far, concerns a couple of idiosyncratic
additions inscribed as a signature upon the work.
To the left, watchful over our Venus, is the Nomad. Nomad is easily
my favorite song from the album with its pounding, forward momentum and
cosmic, mind-altering repetition. The song is sharp and clear and
smacks of confidence acquired only through experience. I envisioned
this nomad as a space-faring, gray alien intent on braving wormholes,
modifying periodic elements “for the lulz” and dancing upon ethereal
toadstools across the void of space.
To the right, contoured in green, is a caricature of myself enjoying
the tunes and birthing ideas. Most of the album cover was created
through the dark of long nights and so I endeavored to communicate my
peace and happiness even in the depths of the vast and lonely violet.
Well… I’m not sure it’s necessary to proceed any further even
though there are several symbols and much encrypted meaning yet to be
deciphered. I will offer those encrypted messages to you in the case
you find yourself curious to dig.
I present this breakdown as a guidepost and a lens to view my other
works through. Should you choose to venture toward the apocalypse, the
event horizon of understanding, you are now equipped with procedural
techniques for grasping the meaning encrypted within my works. Most of
my artworks exhibit similar formulae though some may leave you wanting.
I won’t say anything more.
If you are interested in Suduaya’s music please consider supporting his creativity by purchasing the album below-
I also created the Star Bird image for his latest album “Loveology”, also obtainable at the above link.
Thank you deeply for your kind support of my work and I do sincerely hope you enjoyed this.
Take good care,