July + August 2016
Two Calgary artists, Dave Nielsen and Craig Friesen, took eighteen panels of wood along with inspiration from a classic Greek myth and re-told the story of the First World War. A soldier travels overseas, facing many terrible ordeals and injury. He is cared for by a nurse until he finally returns home to his young family.
The two artists met when Friesen received his practicum placement with high school art teacher Nielsen and, despite a 20 year age difference, the two became fast friends. When they initially conceived this idea the plan was to complete six panels, which quickly became eighteen. They were both inspired by the artwork of German artist Max Beckman along with the imagery found in graphic novels.
Odysseus is the classic trickster-hero. His story is based on the traditional folktale of the homecoming husband. Odysseus and his 10-year journey home are archetypes, or a recurrent symbol or motif, and therefore are the basis for stories and myths told over the centuries. The basic story of Odysseus is a universal story of longing for and journeying home and thus can be reimagined for contemporary narratives.
These artists have taken symbols from the Greek story and shown them as a single propeller aircraft, bored and apathetic soldiers, bombed out cathedrals of Europe, poison gas, no-man’s land between enemy lines and a tank. Visually, the panels reference both comic book panels and war time propaganda posters, infusing the story of Odysseus with many levels of meaning.
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