Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Cells of Hell

Not all of you readers will like this picture. I won't apologize for it. While I've been making sweet sketches of Virginia countryside or cute animals or space abstractions or whatever, I've been working on this picture. Even though most of my friends and fans love my pretty angels and geometric abstractions, I find them boring. I would only do things like that if I were paid well for it. Since I am not getting paid to do creative art, I decided I can do whatever the hell (literally) I want, since not getting paid happens no matter what.

I have also been influenced by seeing fabulous monsters and demons and hellish scenes on deviantART, the artists' clearinghouse online. My good Christian readers may now assume that I have been corrupted by deviantART. God wants only pretty, orderly, colorful, uplifting pictures of holy beings and inspiring scenes, right? Therefore if I want to do something horrific, I must justify it the way Christian artists in the past have done, by making sure your hellish art is taken as a moral lesson and a warning to Be Good and Do Good lest you end up in the flames.

Back a couple of winters ago, I encountered a visionary book by an Evangelical Christian author. He had had a near-death experience and instead of seeing Heaven like so many near-dead-experiencers, he saw Hell. He described it in vivid detail, a kind of Dante for the 21st century. This got me thinking about Hell and why it exists in the Christian universe, and why God would send people to Hell for eternity. I have also been reading the Koran which deals constantly with the Last Judgement and Hell.

I wanted to explore what Hell would be like for the modern world. Not sexy demons or nasty monsters with huge slavering mouths, and no pits of boiling oil or glaciers of perpetual ice. This is my own idea of Hell, inspired by the texts I've read - and my own imaginative experiences. This is "The Cells of Hell." Hell is a place of endless isolation, though untold billions of sentient souls are imprisoned in it, one per cell, each one never knowing that others are there. Each soul is subjected to a relentless sensory overload of harsh light, scorching heat, radiation, screaming noise, and disgusting sights and smells. Each cell is fitted with glaring screens on which an endless procession of nauseating images - pop culture especially - flickers. The soul is connected to a monstrous network of brain-frying data through the cables which you can see plugged into various orifices. They are souls, not bodies, so they can suffer but they do not eat or drink or enjoy any relief.

For all I know, these souls are there for trivial offenses. They weren't sorry, so by the inexorable laws of sin and retribution they went to Hell. In this system, you or I could go there. Shall I go all moralistic in order that I justify this picture? I am not the nice artist you thought I was, and this is not just a passing mood I've gotten into by drinking too much coffee.

Below is a detail excerpt from "The Cells of Hell." Some poor soul did too much thinking during his lifetime.

"The Cells of Hell" is all digital, done in Photoshop CS4. In inches, size is 14" x 11". July 2010.


Mike said...

What a twist coming from you. ;) I'm glad to see you're exploring your darker side. I believe that artists should always allow themselves the freedom to express their own thoughts and ideas... even if they're dark and/or disturbing.

And this is by far the most disturbing version of hell I've ever seen. Well done!

Looking forward to seeing more art of this nature.

Tristan Alexander said...

Won't say anything abut the digital nature of it...definatly seems like a "modern" take on hell. Cubicals are offten refred to in very negative ways by computer/office workers stuck in them day in and day out. As fro this being a fad or soemthing...I learned along time ago to paint/draw/create what I wanted and not worry what others wanted. Unless it is a commission, I don't restrict myself to any one type of art. You have been inspired by others and are going with it, this is good! Personaly, your "dark" stuff seems pretty tame to me...but you are just starting to explore it, so we will see where it leads you. Interesting picture.

Amanda Walker said...

It's a wonderful painting. Stop apologizing for it.

meowhair said...

Agreed! This is a valid expression of your darker side. You don't have to apologize for it. And yes, it is a scary vision of the afterlife. Cubicle hell is not just for the Dilbert cartoon strip.


Goldenrod said...

It is a powerful image. No need to apologize at all. Jesus spoke more of hell than he did of heaven, so I've been told.

Watching the Bio's channel of those who died and came back and tonight's show had a fellow who went into the hopeless, dark, evil cell. He was chained by his wrists and ankles. His wife's prayer to Jesus saved him from the eternity of it.

Maybe if there were more images of hell's torment, people would be less likely to be hurtful to each other.