The Gates of Hell

After my last post, which side tracked into my information gathering and percolation techniques my thoughts returned to those days spent in the library.  This post contains excerpts from an essay I wrote about “The Gates of hell” by Auguste Rodin. As a visual reference point I have included a small image, check out the web for more pictures.  Most of you will be familiar with the character sitting in the middle.

The Thinker. Or as shown here, The Stinker.

Confronted. Standing aghast. Body jolted, mind frozen. Bewildered, confused, curious, entrapped. You are standing before (cue dramatic music and deep baritone voice over) “The Gates of Hell”.

The structures oppressive size belittles you. Ones’ eyes are swept up, drawn to the heavens, hoping to escape this tumultuous scene. The computer says NO. A scornful gaze carried by three men who stand upon the apex bores into you. The stand accusing, each with his index finger pointed straight at you. These are the “Three Shades”.  Glancing around, “Who me?”, you follow their fingers and discover to your relief, that it is not in fact you but the man who sits below them. The Thinker.

….As you remain transfixed by this solitary figure, from the shadows emerge – something. You can not quite make them out for the light is low. Into these dark recesses you are drawn, straining to see what lurks within. BAM!! you are knocked flat on your arse and sucked in the same instant.  Figures swirl about, twisting and writhing. Receding and leaping out towards you, fingers groping. You are engulfed by entropy, like a piece of driftwood carried by the sea, smashed into the rocks. Trapped within, resistance is futile. You let go and become one with the work, an actor upon the stage, no longer a passive viewer sitting safely in the audience.

…….Your eyes are drawn back once again to meet The Thinker, pausing for breath in this the only moment of peace in the entire composition.  However you soon realise the The Thinker is not at rest, he is not peace, he can not provide you with solace. The anguish and turmoil you feel resonates from within him, he is at once the cause and the effect. The entropy of the work, the fear you feel is the echo of his thoughts.

I was lost within “The Gates of Hell” for months. Completely fell in love with this work.  There is no way to see it but in the flesh, something I am yet to do.  It was explored through the many collections of detail images housed within books written about Rodin’s masterpiece.  The purpose of the essay was to provide a visual analysis of a work of your choosing.  When writing these you are supposed to discuss things such as line, form, colour and so on.  This I found dry and boring and so quite difficult, until I was encouraged by my lecturer to be expressive. Write a story. So I did and before long found myself thinking about everything I saw with this in mind. Still do.

Find the story and tell the story.





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