Into the void, the flame leapt into being.
It was fire that started it all, that pricked pinholes into that infinite black velvet curtain. That brought light and warmth, and, eventually life and the means to sustain life.
Ever fickle, it also periodically devours that which it has helped create.
In the heat. Of the flame. A soul was forged.
Possessed of the strength and permanence of a mountain, it burns in anticipation of the far-off day when its shattered self will be completed.
The true beauty of the diptych - or triptych, quadriptych, pentaptych … all polyptychs*, really - is the depth of transformation you can achieve in the work.
Each panel stands apart, like a lone wolf on a jutting mountain peak, howling cliches at the full moon. There’s a self-contained concept, narrative, and/or emotion. The piece has an impact on the viewer based entirely on whatever is inside those limited borders.
Add a second panel (and a third, etc.), and suddenly the boundaries are shattered. There’s a second story, or perhaps a continuation of the first, if the art creates a narrative. For more conceptual or abstract pieces, the new portion might continue the emotional journey, or reinforce the ideas and metaphors presented.
But wait, there’s more!
There’s a re-contextualisation happening. Suddenly, the first image appears in a different light. It’s meaning is deepened. It’s concepts somewhat altered. The metaphors aren’t just strengthened, but also extended. Visually, lines and curves continue and develop, move and meander in new and unique ways. Abstract shapes become concrete. Colors brighten or fade. Ideas clarify or become more ambiguous. Or, paradoxically, both at the same time.
In a way, polyptychs aren’t so different from people. We know our friends and family and coworkers in specific roles. Our mother is Mom. Our husbands and wives are spouses, lovers, and confidantes. Peeking in on them as workers, lovers, etc. can be a revelation. At times shocking.
She Who Brings the Fire & He of the Flame prints smolder their way back into the shop today, re-forging their heated relationship.
* I admit it. I just learned half of these words today. I had guessed “quintatych, sexaptych, and septaptych”. I was not correct. Oh well.