This past July I participated in the World Body Painting Festival that took place in Austria. The theme of the competition was metamorphosis.
The immediate association that came to me was that of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but I knew I wanted to create something with a greater meaning than that common image.
After a great deal of thought, I chose the theme of birth and death as a metamorphosis of life.
Birth and death
The realization that death is a metamorphosis of birth came to me during a very difficult time in my life.
It was wartime. A very difficult period that my country went through.
My son, who was a soldier then, had to go to war.
I couldn’t bear it.
Neither the horrible war situation.
Nor the endless worry about my beloved son.
The sense of fear and despair that was in the air was paralyzing and I found myself crying endlessly.
I mourned every death, on both sides, caused by the terrible war.
During that time, only my paintings calmed me.
This is how my encounter with death looked then:
A year later, I met the brother of one of the fallen soldiers. He was giving out bracelets with the inscription:
“Smile because a smile is happiness, and happiness is the strength to carry on.”
Birth and death – the metamorphosis of life…
Death and creation
Now I faced a new challengem, from the moment I incorporated death into the creation, the subject became complex, difficult, and frightening. After all, how can you express and illustrate such a broad and deep subject, a subject that encompasses all of life?
I thought that the best way to go about it would be to use symbols.
A symbol carries within it an idea and a meaning that go beyond its graphic representation. Symbols are rooted in our culture and they can be an international language that carry therein meanings, philosophy, the conscious and the subconscious.
The narrative of my work was an abundance of symbols. I included fire, a skull, humanoid, an apple core, an owl, a tree and roots, a maze, a butterfly, and eyes at different points in a person’s life. However beyond the rendering of the symbols themselves, the piece was also composed of the colors I used, the composition of the symbols, and their placement on the model’s body.
In this way, the personal, philosophical, and psychological interpretation of the observer was added to the creation and the piece became versatile and dependent on the eyes of the beholder.
I planned to travel to the festival with Anya, my favorite model, but during the preparations for the trip, my Anya died suddenly. The immense shock I underwent following Anya’s death accompanied me in the metamorphosis creation.
In the competition in Austria, my interpretation of the theme, the connection to life and death, was well received.
The piece won the honorable second place.
My dear, beloved Anya – the work and the prize are dedicated to you.
What is the first symbol that comes your mind when you think about metamorphosis?
Happy to hear from you.