John Philip Murray





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Gilgamesh & Enkidu

Oil on cotton 102x76cm. 2007

The oldest story known(roughly 5/6,000 years ago), deals with a great ruler, Gilgamesh and the wild man Enkidu, who on their first meeting have a violent hand-to-hand fight with one another, lasting several days, after which, they become fast friends. They are inseparable, sharing adventures, until the disaffected gods intervene and lay Enkidu low with a great fever, to which he eventually succumbs. Gilgamesh is distraught and seeks to get the gods to allow Enkidu to return to the sensible world. Eventually they relent and Enkidu's shade returns from the underworld. Gilgamesh questions him about his existence on the other side, and Enkidu tells him of a great darkness, through which he cannot see. It seems that after five or six thousand years our concerns seem similar, but we appear to being no nearer to understanding. The technology is different, but human nature remains the same. My painted Gilgamesh is clear; he is open eyed and innocent. He displays an intelligence, but appears puzzled, quizzical. I have placed him in the open air, with plains behind him. I have separated him from Enkidu, who is shown below, in monochrome blue/grey, his face barely distinguishable from his surroundings. His eyes are closed, his face screwed up in a grimace, he is attempting to see through his closed eyes, seemingly without success. His claustrophobic surroundings are in direct contrast to the fresh airiness of those of Gilgamesh. The panels to the left-hand-side of both images are in clear greens.