Narrative Art has a long history, as humans have been telling stories using pictures for millennia. Sometimes several scenes would be shown in an image to illustrate a sequence of events and sometimes a single scene would be used to illustrate an entire story. Narratives were of well-known stories circulating in the culture or from religion, but that changed at the end of the 19th Century when Modernism took hold and artists starting playing with the effects of time and space. 20th Century artists questioned what makes art ‘Art’ in the first place.
As we step into the 21st Century artists once again look to tell stories in their work, but there is a significant difference between us contemporaries and our pre-20th Century predecessors: we create new stories. They are not to be found in ancient religious texts. The stories we paint are original and audiences have to look for clues in the images to understand the narrative. Sometimes the ending is unknown or ambiguous.
For more about narrative painting and its raison d’être, please see medium.com/figure-ground-art-review/painters-are-telling-new-stories