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).
– 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 pleasant rhythm.
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.
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 eye.
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:)
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. —
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. —
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 Botticelli.
The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli —
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:)
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,