Phales, 2007, oil on linen, 66x76cm

Here is a brief explanation of my creative process which I originally wrote in 2009. I am always happy to answer questions about this, although I am very much still learning and discovering myself.

Mainomenos Dionysos

I spent the few years preceding 2007 trying to remove thought completely from my working process, as I was after a purity that I felt did not reside in the human mind.

I feel I was finally able to do so, during that year, by tapping into the Greek god Dionysos.

Since then my painting has been simply the manifestation, through me, of the creative energy that is inherent in all of us. This energy is the primitive impulse behind every creative activity. It is the core of life itself as understood by the devotees of the Dionysian religion of ancient Greece. This life/creative force when excited intensely can overflow into a frenzy of erotic madness – mainomenos Dionysos. It was this energy in its most phallic, demented state that I opened myself to whenever I’ve worked since that time.

I initially did this in order to be able to switch off any rational thought so that the paintings could take their own shape; as autonomously as possible. Then I became more and more absorbed by it. I will in fact often work in an ithyphallic state. This process resulted in the craziest, most powerful work I’ve ever created.

But the Greek gods are complicated beasts (much like us).

According to very old Dionysian rites, even before the height of Greek culture, the Dionysian calendar was split into two alternating years. On the first year (depending on how you look at it), Dionysos is absent. He is in the underworld. He is dead. On the following year he is pulsating and overflowing with the virile energy of life (and creativity) to the point of madness – and ultimately destruction. It is this second Dionysos – Dionysos Mainomenos – that possessed me during 2007.

When I first wrote this in 2009 I felt that in 2008 I’d tapped more into the other Dionysos, the underworld Dionysos, called Dionysos Chthonios.

In retrospect I see that they are both one and the same thing for, as legend has it, this period of Dionysian life is not about mourning his death. Instead there is a yearning for life. Dionysos wants, and indeed needs, to be awakened. Back in Greek antiquity it was the women devotees of Dionysos, the Thyads, (who then became the Meneads during the year of his presence), who “awakened” the god in the form of the phallus – one of his many embodiments.

The phallus happens to also be the life (and creative) force within us.

So, as you can see, sexual energy is responsible for life but also results in destruction (anyone with children will understand this), but it is this very sexual energy that will bring life back.

These paintings contain extreme sexual energy but also a lot of darkness, proof that I was really tapping into something since I never set out to consciously achieve this.

But maybe there is something missing, a female energy – the Thyads perhaps?

This other, third aspect of Dionysos, or maybe of another god, still eludes me and is probably what I’ve been unknowingly searching for during the few years, as part of my constant evolving as an artist.

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