Artist’s Statement,  Odyssey Exhibit, Christopher Brodigan Gallery, 1998

The Odyssey Series

In my landscape painting the subject matter is simply a medium for the communication of ideas.  In search of a way to bring more meaning and symbolism to my landscapes, I began using text after I was commissioned to paint a reproduction of Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom, a nineteenth century American work which uses biblical text in a border around its central picture.

I chose Homer’s Odyssey for the text in my paintings because it holds great meaning for me.  Though the themes of the Odyssey have been an influence on my work for some time, I had never before used the text as a visual element in a painting.  I also wanted to link the material with my own era so I incorporated a second border of text taken from Beatles’ lyrics.  I chose both sources for their universal appeal and because many people seem to identify with them.

In reading Homer’s Odyssey, it becomes apparent that fundamental human existence has changed little in the 2800 years since the text was written.  We still experience love, anguish, fear and compassion, and have a basic need for peace, order, and the balance of right and wrong.

In reading or listening to Homer’s Odyssey, it is possible to experience Homer’s characters to the extent that we can begin to see ourselves as those characters, and to see their attributes in ourselves.  In this way we begin to understand the odyssey of our own lives.

Similarly, we sometimes identify strongly with music or lyrics in a song.  Some songs seem to elicit these reactions, others do not.  Perhaps the songs that are meaningful to us remind us of a certain event, person, emotion that we have had, or a particular experience.  At times, certain songs seem to distill the essence of our moods and thoughts into their purest and most poignant form.  Some music and lyrics of the Beatles fall into this category for me.

 In these paintings I have chosen to combine important images from different periods of my life with those Beatles’ lyrics and lines from the Odyssey which are most meaningful to me.  In this way I hope to explore the odyssey of my own work.

Tom Watson