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The Restoration of the Mona Lisa
The Operation of the Sun

High quality four colour offset prints available now

When I paint, I draw from my reading of mythology and from my study of ancient cultures.

This work explores the age-old mythology of the fountain of youth. The central crisis in the story-line of the painting is that of the Mona Lisa's aged and decrepit condition. The Hero in the story, the monkey, applies his understanding of the transformational mysteries and methods of alchemy to aid in her revitalization.

The main portion of the painting containing the monkey and the apple tree depicts the present, while the framed Mona Lisa “portrait” part of the painting illustrates the near future. The two time-frames provide a mechanism to illuminate Mona's transformation by the elixir of life.

appletree scene  

I have drawn on methods and devices inherited from multiple traditions of painting and storytelling to deliver a visual narrative. What may at first appear to be random is highly structured, and arranged to tell a story. Each part of this painting relates to the other parts in a complex network of colours, themes and symbolism. The story presented here is not linear, but is instead intended as an object of musing or reverie.

The four alchemical elements are embodied by the characters in front of the apple tree. The King and Queen represent fire and water, while Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley represent air and earth. Each of these figures is distinguished by colours and symbols that are reflected elsewhere in the painting. Careful examination of this scene will provide further keys to the story. What are the King and Queen looking at? What are Marilyn and Elvis doing?

The Mona Lisa's restoration in this work is accomplished not through the methods of art restoration, but by the elixir of life, which the monkey retrieves from its source at the top of the fountain. It is not the famous painting of the Mona Lisa that the monkey has set out to restore, but the lady herself.

The area of the painting devoted to Mona's portrait is painted from a different perspective and time frame from that of the rest of the painting. She sits at the same picnic table that can be seen behind the scene with the monkey, enjoying the picnic that is about to happen, while the Mona of the present is enroute on her motor-scooter. Still in the dark, yellowed and aged state in which we have come to know her, she makes her way to her future...


painting pics



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© James Norton 2012