John Foster

Commentary - Journey to the Underworld

Journey to the Underworld mural

2000 – 2002, Polyurethane paint on hardboard, Length 16.8m, Height 2.4m

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Questioning the afterlife

This mural explores themes relating to death, with references to classical literature and modern society.

The mural in progress

This was John’s last mural.

In 2002 he was diagnosed with cancer, and in 2003 he left the farm and his large workshop.

He returned to Mangawhai Heads, where work space was more limited. Although he had created murals in this space previously, he did not attempt to add more panels to this mural.

“I take only a few minutes to throw some paint onto a panel, but it can take weeks to get it into the right place. What has to be lived are the hours and hours of doubt while sitting there looking at the partly finished work.” -- John Foster

Like the other recent murals, this one is constructed of whole sheets of hardboard supported by timber frames. Unlike the others, each large panel is a separate painting without visual links to the others. The panels can be arranged in any order.

The titles of the panels aid in understanding the mural:

Spirits Waiting to Cross the Styx
Two (entrail) Labyrinths
Orpheus and Eurydice
Passage Down
Guardians of the Doorway
Ariadne's Thread
Crucifixion: Descent into Hell
9/11 (11 Sept 2001)


Series also includes:

Television inteview

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