_ Also known as Aphrodite _
at the Palm BeachAcrylic on Canvas. 2008.
In ancient times a priestess, who held the keys to certain divine realms. During a significant period of human cultural evolution a great cult goddess especially of fertility, passionately worshiped in many cultures and through many ages, she seemed till only some decades back to have irrevocably transformed herself to a mere object of man in the course of the warped history of mankind.
In fact already with Praxiteles she was no more the goddess of fertility but a symbol of "platonian" a priori ideas, Pythagorean proportions and the emotions associated with Eros, the god of love and erotic. No more the old goddess of fertility, the divine Mother, the giver of Life, the altruistic source of tough enduring female power, unfathomable and almost never eulogized in patriarchal societies, Venus did indeed decouple herself from many of her ancient attributes and in tune with modern job specializations became, with the advent of modern media and advertising a symbol of predominantly oozing sexuality.
Starting from Pythagorean ideas of harmony to those a-priori ideas of Plato, to the homage paid to symmetry by Praxiteles, Venus would reappear in baroque Italy almost as a Nymph in Botticelli's work, that could fit well with the renderings of the four seasons by Vivaldi. In the foregoing centuries she may have been imbued with the dominant stylistic nuances of a specific epoch and possibly enhanced with the influences imported from the non-European cultures during the age of the great discoveries or she may have been symbolically subsumed under certain specific personal renderings of the archetypical in the works of some artists.
What has she become in our own times and especially in our depiction?
Woefully dissociated from her latent or rather not explicitly declared cult and ritualistic functions and her other symbolic attributes, like matriarchal fertility and maternal altruism she has become a monolithic objectified symbol for sexiness and prestige and manipulated as a lucrative financial resource.
She is no more the giver of life but an object of sexual desire of man. An object whose possession increases one's own value and assets in the prestige-barter system of modern societies. A symbol for the use of the leisure industry and that of mass consumption, be it entertainment or goods.1
Oozing Paleolithic sex appeal, she is used in evoking images of the current western dream of leisure _ palm trees, swimming pools, five star hotels, golf-courses, fast cars, private yachts and jets, pristine beaches and that old sand and still older Sun!
In my depiction, she shows a perceptible stylistic dichotomy between the head and the body, reflecting her present alienation. As if flown in from somewhere her head seems to look upon the rest of her as if at something outside herself, as if she is attired temporarily in some exotic dress with some a priori given attributes. The face shows no emphasis on Caucasian ethnicity, her body may however reflect it. Her hair, with a conspicuous precedent in the work of Botticelli, has streaks of pure gold and is a mixture of blond, red and black. Her body is bathed in sun and sand with a predominant emphasis on form. In all she is less erotic evoking more the lustrous limbic realm rather than frontal cerebral functionality.
And she is at the beach. A symbol reflecting the epitome of leisure and reward for the life of the drudgery of the urban wage working population.
Of course this not the end of her. In our other works, she is incidentally on her way to heal this dichotomy, with the help of the Muses, a theme of my other visual artwork: Diana persuading Venus and depicted in detail in Act 1, Scene 2 in Olympian Acts wherein muse Calliope visits Venus in the cave of Vulcan.
1In fact this is reflected in the celluloid history of Hollywood to some extent. Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews to Ursula Andress and Brigitte Bardot till the playboy bunnies took over the Hollywood, just as Steve Reeves an obscure figure in his decade would be reborn as million dollar box-office superstar of today.