Inspired by Pompeiian Style Fresco decoration, Jacob created a room to house his paintings, in order to emulate these Ancient Roman interiors. Observing a strong formal link between this ancient wall decoration and the large colour field canvases of High Modernist abstraction, the Prison of Narcissus fuses together two seemingly disparate forms of image making. In doing so, Jacob simultaneously utilises but, paradoxically, also undermines their respective aesthetic connotations. As a result, the work is imbued with an overtly theatrical, semi-parodic quality. With areas of illusion set aside flat, geometric divisions of colour, the work unites contradictory pictorial devices from both the classical European tradition and the Modern Era. This creates a visual tension and ambiguity that plays with the tripartite relationship between the viewer, the subject and both their spatial contexts, thus blurring the line between the real world and that of the image.
Mirrors played a crucial role in all of this, to the extent at which Jacob installed two of them into the exhibition space, thus the viewer became the main subject of the work, and could see him/herself in relation to the painted figures. Leon Battista Alberti, in his treatise on painting ‘Della Pittura’, claimed Narcissus to be the first painter, the tragic mythological hero falling victim of sacrificing the ‘real’ world for the world of mere appearances. In today’s selfie-obsessed, image-mediated society, Jacob would argue that never before has the voice of this myth echoed so strongly.