© 2005 by Elfriede Dreyer

The flood I and II, 2010. Mixed media on PVC, 1500mm x 1200mm each

Consciously derived from Michelangelo Buonarroti’s The Flood of 1508 – 1509 (one of the frescoes on the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Rome), my two works comment on forms of world making and ways of seeing.The two-part work functions as a diptych but comprises two independent works, which comments on utopia and dystopia as two sides of the same coin. The surface grid refers to the systemic ordering and restriction found in utopian schemes, as was very much the case during the Renaissance. My process involved painting scenes, destroying these through the ‘analysis’ of the grid and resurrecting them once more. In simulation of pre-twentieth-century naturalism, I deliberately used a ‘naturalistic’ style in this work. In addition, a colour paradigm simulating the cinquecento use of red (fire), green (water), blue (sky) and ash/brown (earth) has been applied, but some of the parodic imagery has been white-washed, speaking of knowledge that is partial and relative, and erasure and loss through time.  Though being the result of God’s wrath upon humankind, in Michelangelo’s work the flood is presented not as a threat to human life but as a testament to the utopianistic belief in the human ability to survive. Both such concern with ‘ending’ and the forceful and vigorous form of presentation are lost in my work and I render the main groups of figures as leisuring beachgoers unconcerned with politics, the future or cataclysms such as floods or earthquakes. Paradise lost in the dystopian momentin Michelangelo’s utopian work becomes paradise regained in the dystopia of the carefree pleasurable moment in my The flood.