Monday, 8 December 2014

Leonard: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design, styling: GothicNarcissus
Model, hair: Davide Marcuzzo
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (texture)

Oh, hey, the Infernal Lords are still progressing! I feel kind of bad for taking more than a year between the last work and this one, but 2014 has been quite contrived, both outside and inside photography, and the project had to wait.
First things first: I wanted a Demon of Magic and Witchcraft in my series. Provided that this project draws quite strictly from Jewish an Christian mythology, in my continuity witches and wizards call upon a Demon to receive their powers (and I don’t care if it is not Wiccanly accurate, that’s an entirely different mythology), so such a Demon was quite necessary. Despite Leonard not being from the Lesser Key of Solomon, I found him quite easily in Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnare Infernal as a nightly Demon who presides the Sabbath and bestows the gift of black magic to humans. I was a little puzzled by his name, as it is a real given name, but I also found a very inspirational illustration of him which cleared any doubts.
Leonard from the Dictionnaire Infernal.
Purged of the monstrous features, the whole idea of the pose, the staff (or, in my case, a wand) in his right hand and the beard to keep close to the goatish theme stuck. I came up pretty quickly with the idea of using a wand I purchased back in my teenish wiccan days and an as of then yet unused notebook with a fancy cover I found in Malta some eight years ago (you can also see it in The Narcissist Song, and it has now become my tarot journal). Also, a few years ago my mother sew me an amazing black and red cloak, which would perfectly fit the theme.
Much more troublesome was the casting of Leonard because I could not find someone who fit the “wizard” type. I had a few ideas which didn’t work out for several reasons, and then I met Davide, the lead singer of the progressive metal band SoulStorm, who fit perfectly. We initially scheduled a shooting in August, but even if we did it, I had to scrap all the photos I took because the light was pretty awful, too much even to try to fix it in Lightroom and Photoshop. At least, the experience with Decarabia has taught me something. Due to my summer break at my mother’s and other stuff, a new shooting had to wait until November, My original background for Leonard when I stopped at Davide’s place for an afternoon on my way back from Lucca. As I had done some paid work at the Comic convention, I spent much of November working on those photos and I could not find the time and concentration to work on Leonard until yesterday. The postproduction was smooth and quick, so here it is at last. On a side note, I had toyed with the background very long ago (at least as early as 2011); even though it didn’t fit the photo because it was too distracting, here you can see the original texture I had come up with.

The symbolism is pretty immediate: the wand, the grimoire and Solomon’s Seal projecting from the crystal represent witchcraft, as does the cloak. As I mentioned, I took most of the pose directly from the illustration in the Dictionnaire Infernal, but I decided to give it some sort of “fallen saint” theme to represent Leonard’s huge powers. I decided to make his seal (actually borrowed from Volac) into the halo because Leonard is quite dressed up and there wasn’t much skin for it; but most of it was covered by his head anyway, so I engraved it on the grimoire back cover too. I also decided not to give him wings because, on the one hand, he can just poof anywhere magically and, on the other, they would be redundant and clashing with the cloak. I chose liver as the main colour because I wanted some muted sepia-ish tones which would recall a dusty painting. I had some trouble choosing a song, but eventually The Mundane And The Magic by Dark Tranquillity featuring Nell Sigland stuck for pretty obvious reasons.

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