Monday, August 11, 2008

The Opener of the Way

New painting, just completed (8/8/08).

(click on image to enlarge)


Jacobi, The Opener of the Way, 18" x 24", acrylic, 2008

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The Opener of the Way
Psycho, Anubis

The Opener of the Way is the title of Robert Bloch’s first book, a collection of horror and fantasy stories, published by Arkham House in 1945. Bloch would be familiar to most people as the author of Psycho, from which Alfred Hitchcock’s movie of the same name was based. Bloch was also a member of the “Lovecraft Circle”. In Bloch’s story, the opener of the way was the jackal-headed Egyptian god of the dead, Anubis.




Robert Johnson at the crossroads, Muddy, and Jimi


The opener of the way; the gatekeeper at the crossroads. Legend has it that bluesman Robert Johnson “made a deal with the devil at the crossroads”. In the voodoo tradition of Haiti and New Orleans, the deity Legba is the gatekeeper of the gates to the spirit world, the opener of the way for the gods to possess their devotees. It is likely that the “devil” that Robert Johnson encountered was actually Legba (so the story goes). Johnson’s song Crossroads was popularized by Eric Clapton with the group Cream on their 1968 double album Wheels of Fire.



Voodoo has not been an uncommon theme in the blues. From Johnson, to Muddy Waters singing "I got a black cat bone, I got a mojo too, I got a John the Conqueror root, I’m gonna mess with you..." in the song Hoochie Coochie Man, to Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, there is a powerful magic in this music.


The painting

This painting came about in a very spontaneous manner. I had nothing specific in mind when I started it, it just sort of unfolded on its own. (It started with a sketch, which can be seen on a post I made back on May 15.) As it progressed, I looked at it and thought, what is this thing? I pictured myself standing out in a field somewhere, encountering this strange entity that just materialized out of thin air. An apparition, an inter-dimensional being, or what? The legend of Robert Johnson came to mind… the crossroads… Legba, the opener of the way. Somehow, it fit. Legba is often depicted as an as an old man on a crutch or with a cane, wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat and smoking a pipe, or sprinkling water. If this is a picture of Legba, he could be “shape-shifting”, or perhaps this is just one of his many faces.

Then again, this painting could be about something altogether different…

Note: included in this painting you will find the all-seeing eye, the alchemical symbols for fire and for air, and the golden ratio a couple of times (appearing once by chance [to my surprise, when I realized it], and once by intent[inspired by my discovery]).

1 comment:

Andreananda said...

Rick,

I love it! I love the symbolismand your technique. Do you sell any cds of your music?

I usually have music w/out words playing in my office during my art therapy sessions with clients and was thinking your music would be great.