Luelan Bodden, artist and owner of NasArt Gallery, stands in front of the canvas that has taken him more than a year to create.
His feelings for the work are not necessarily positive.
‘This work was very hard to do, it wasn’t pleasant,’ he says. ‘I didn’t enjoy it, but it had been in my mind for a year so I wanted to get it done.’
In this statement he perhaps summarises many artists’ relationships with their products. They aren’t always creating art because they want to, but more because they feel they have to.
Mr. Bodden can’t really explain where his ideas or inspiration come from, either. He believes all of us are susceptible to our subconscious.
‘Sometimes I have a dream, sometimes I see something at my job or how people are acting and you start putting things together,’ he says of his sources. ‘But the funny thing with art is that a lot of things come into your art because they are in your subconscious and you don’t realise [they are]. If you have a very quiet child, you can give them paper to draw on and you can start to see how their emotions are inside. Art helps people.’
This latest work is a montage of sorts, where images in different corners of the canvas are intended to correspond with contrasting images in the opposite corner, and where several social commentaries are narrated through thought-provoking images and scenes.
‘The baby is [to represent] where we all came from,’ Mr. Bodden says, pointing out the small baby painted in the centre of the canvas. He goes around the canvas, explaining many of the images. ‘Lady Justice with one eye open shows that we’re not always fair,’ he says. ‘Modifying meats and fruits – all the additives and preservatives they use in these foods are those in embalming fluids, so they reckon that when we die, in 20 years or so, we’ll all be preserved.’
He goes on to point out a string of DNA that turns into a virus, the scene of a child being inoculated – it could represent the recent bout with swine flu but it could just as easily represent any other epidemic. A painting of the solar system leads into an image of the Big Bang, one theory about how the world was created that has also circulated as a theory about how the world will end.
The canvas centres on the idea of the world ending in 2012, something that the writer Nostradamus predicted back in the 1500s. Mayan calculations also report that the world should end its ‘current cycle’ in December 2012. Mr. Bodden represents the Mayan influence with the intricate rendering of the Mayan calendar in the middle of the canvas.
‘They say it’s happened about four times,’ says Mr. Bodden of various prophecies that the world should end. ‘Noah and the big flood, if you believe in that story, [told how] the whole world went underwater. That should be an end but how it ends is that it kills off 80 per cent and leaves 20 per cent to repopulate the world. It’s more of a new beginning.’
Mr. Bodden is able to avoid ‘artists’ blocks’ because he works in so many different media.
‘I got a turtle shell from the Turtle Farm. I want to make it into a lamp, put wires in and make a lamp,’ says Mr. Bodden of his latest project. He works as an electrician by trade, so will create the lamp from scratch, including the wiring.
Mr. Bodden is thinking of next participating in the Affordable Art Fair that the National Gallery is hosting in November. He rarely does solo shows, preferring instead to feature his art in mixed shows.
‘My art’s so strong; you have to have a strong mind to take it in,’ he says.