By Petar Meseldzija
My homage to Frazetta is finally finished and although it has often been said that a good painting does not need the explanation, I do feel compelled to say something about one particular aspect of this piece. My intention was not to make a copy of Frazetta’s character. My intention was to do a homage to the master by projecting his famous character onto my world and let it go through the prism of my own vision. The essence of my interpretation has been most correctly expressed by a good friend of mine and a fellow artist who, upon seeing the painting, commented: “ Ah, you are on their side as well…!” Another spot-on remark I heard from another person was: “This is perhaps the lightest Death Dealer painting I have ever seen, but still the darkest Death Dealer, for it appears to me that HE is the bad guy!”
The Death Dealer series, as it is the case with much of Frazetta’s art, reflect a typical black-and-white approach to the relationship between good and evil, and it is presented in a simplified and rather straightforward manner. Death Dealer’s foes are evil savages who are here to be slain (punished for whatever they stand for), while Death Dealer’s job is to make sure it is properly and thoroughly done. Generally speaking, I think this aspect of Frazetta’s art is not only connected to the certain archetypes and the stereotypes of his time, but it also reflects something of the preconceptions, general aspirations, prevailing ideologies, the impact of major conflicts, etc. of the 20st century.
The times have changed, as we know . We don’t live anymore in a black-and-white world (we never did, by the way, this is one of many misconceptions man has to deal with). We now live in a Grey, more complex world, a global village, where the division line between the good guys and the bad guys seem to be fairly blurred. In a way we have become more realistic (I still avoid to use the word “wise” because of the obvious reasons). It has been said that the most popular character from Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings is not Frodo, or Sam, or Gandalf, or Aragorn but Gollum! I think this is a very interesting indication, although a tiny one, and I guess relatively insignificant, for there are much better and more relevant examples. Never the less, this testifies to the shift in the approach of the general public (popular culture) to the concept of good and bad, which apparently has become more flexible.
The underlying notion of my Death Dealer interpretation is supposed to reflect this “new” point of view. The rest of the elements, mostly technical in nature, are derived from this concept.