Nothing Further Beyond
Hand painted piece created for The Grand Exhibition of the The Pre-Vinylite Society: An 18th Century Revival. Curated by Meredith Kasabian of Boston, USA, the exhibition ran from August 16-19, 2018 at the Oxo Tower Wharf in London. More than 30 sign painters from around the world took part. Exhibition artwork by Jakob Engberg of Copenhagen Signs.
The show directly references an exhibition of signs that took place in London in 1762. The original Grand Exhibition of the Society of Sign Painters opened on April 22, 1762 on Bow Street, Covent Garden. It was a satirical display of pictorial signboards, some painted specifically for the show (purportedly by William Hogarth) and some taken clandestinely from the city streets in the aftermath of a sign ordinance that required all projecting signs to be removed.
One of the few surviving objects from the 1762 exhibition is its companion catalogue, which playfully and often facetiously describes the pictorial signs for the 18th-century viewer. For The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society, the artists work directly from the 1762 catalogue to translate the historic descriptions into contemporary lettering and pictorial styles. Each artist in the show interprets a description from the original catalogue by lettering it verbatim, rendering it pictorially, or by utilizing both lettering and pictorial skills.
My piece is based on this description from the original 1762 exhibition: “The Hercules Pillars. The architecture by Young Soames, the Figure (from the Farnesian Hercules) by the father”. The Pillars of Hercules was the phrase applied in Antiquity to the promontories that flank the entrance to the straight of Gilbraltar. The northern pillar, Calpe Mons, is the shape in the background of the piece. Plato stated that the lost realm of Atlantis was situated beyond the Pillars, and Renaissance tradition states that the Pillars bore the warning ‘Ne plus ultra’ (nothing further beyond) to warm sailors to go no further. I focused on this phrase and split the painting with Calpe Mons to create another dimension to the painting representing Ancient beliefs such as Atlantis. The colours are inspired by the hues of the Mediterranean and ivory statues of the Roman era.
Enamel on wood, 51 x 41cm