The Old Faeries (part III: MELENCOLIA I)

Like  Old School, Heileman’s Old Style, and the Great Old Ones, a certain aesthetic is instantly conjured by virtue of the use of the simple word: Old.

This is the third of a four post series  concerning “The Old Faeries” For more background on the genesis of this series refer to:  The Old Faeries (part I : The Antique Faerie) and (part II: The Untitled Green Man)

Melencolia is a curious piece in my history as an artist as it is (and was) a side track from another long term project which remains incomplete to this day.

Outside of the Larger story of how Melenocolia I is a side track from a larger cycle, it is probably worth saying a few things about the piece within it’s own parameters first . I’ll get back to the more expansive story later.
Melencolia I was executed on a warm gray paper with india ink, and gouache. Brushes, pens and pencil were used alternately. It was produced at about the same time as the Untitled Green man so much of what has already been said about that peice can be applied to this one as well.

The text I had posted  along with the image for years prior to the revamp of my website reads as follows:
This piece is a reinterpretation of Durer’s engraving: Melancolia I. It is easy to equate melancholy with depression, but is it really the same thing?
note: the spelling of Melancolia differs between the way it is commonly spelled now and the way it was spelled by Durer (Melancholia). The misspelling is due to the fact that I am a shitty speller, and feel if there is anywhere I should be allowed to spell words the way I want it must be in titling my own artwork.”


Durer’s Melencolia I
The text above seems to still hold up to me, so anything I write further on it will be an expansion, more so than a revision of my original interpretation.  That is, baring my note about spelling. I’d say ignore that now. I’m not sure it even makes sense. I’m still a shitty speller, but it looks like I’ve reverted to spelling “Melencolia I” the same way Durer did. If this saddens you be comforted by the fact I will have more bad spelling for you in the future as well as more things to say that are thoroughly confusing.

At the time of it’s creation I had some ideas of the abandonment of one’s own personal art in the purist of a vague possibly more domestic life. The violin is abandoned and it’s bow has been overgrown by a stump which itself has ended its growth, an imposition of the saw.  To me,  personally,  this leaving of the path of the individual was inconceivable , though I saw it was possible in the lives of others . The seduction of the superhighway of the mundane and conformity will always exist and the real individual that succumbs to it will always feel some amount of melancholy. Though this might be one path to melencolia, the artist certainly has his own even inside of his own individuality.

Concerning the larger story of Melencolia I; read on while keeping in mind that I wrote the following text sometime around 2002 or 03.

The Four Temperaments
The major uncomissioned project on which I am currently working , is a series of medium sized paintings based on the medieval concept of the four temperaments. Each will consider one of the temperaments (Melancholic, Choleric, Sanguine, and Phlegmatic). Each will include the iconic symbol of the faerie, and a contemporary urban environment. There are a number of other concepts that may end up being consistent over the four pieces, but at this time I prefer to remain uncommitted to them.I knew from the beginning when I was first brewing the idea that it might take a number of years to realize this series fully. My prophecy is already coming true, it’s been two years now since I first conceived of the project and the drawing for the first painting is still being worked out. The above piece is from a sort of divergent alternative melancholia concept which I completed last summer. It can be seen in the faeries section of the Gallery, or by clicking on the face above. Though I know it could be confusing, I’ve titled the above Melencholia I after Durer’s master engraving of the same name. I will title the four temperaments piece simply: Melancholy.

What happened? Did I complete those paintings or what? The answer as I said above is NO.

Here is a glimpse of the current state of the painting. No comments please from the peanut gallery; it is not done.

Maybe I’ll finish it in the next 8 years.

About dk

Doug Kovacs is an Artist and Illustrator who lives in Chicago
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