Metamorphosis Project

The Metamorphosis Project

The Metamorphosis Project is a conceptual illustration of the 1915 novel The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.  The Project consists of four or five large-ish paintings to be completed in the next few months and inspired by the novel’s story of a young man who awakens one morning to find himself turned into a bug (German: Ungeziefer).  Overworked, poor and in debt, Gregor Samsa is a traveling fabric salesman and the sole breadwinner of his family.  His life of ceaseless travel and unremitting work has caused him alienation from those for whom he provides as well as from his own humanity.  As a result, he finds himself changed into a “hideous vermin.”  In fact, Gregor is so far from recognizing his true state that his immediate thoughts after awakening are focused not on his physical state, but on the fact that he has missed his train and may be fired.  Although these paintings will probably be included under the “Objects” or Still Lifes portion of my website when they are completed, I consider these paintings to be fundamentally figurative-- just without the figure, just as Kafka’s novel was the story about a man who is no longer quite a man.  The absence of a figure in a painting that intends to be really figurative echoes the idea that Gregor's real metamorphosis, his internal and spiritual one, has already occurred even before its physical manifestation.  This is partly why I call the Project a conceptual illustration.  My purpose is not to illustrate specific scenes from the novel, but rather to take Kafka’s text as a starting point and illustrate truths about humanity and alienation that can be illuminated and enriched through visual means.