The Dissipated Cloud: Io

The Dissipated Cloud: Io

In order to hide his infidelity from Juno, Jupiter disguised himself as a cloud to visit and seduce Io.  Juno became wise to his game so Jupiter changed Io into a white heifer.  Again, Juno was not fooled and cunningly asked for the lovely heifer as a gift, which she left in the care of the hundred-eyed giant Argus.  Upon Jupiter’s orders Mercury charmed Argus to sleep and beheaded him.  In memory of the giant, Juno placed Argus’ eyes on the tail of the peacock; in revenge she sent the gadfly to torment the heifer forever.

        The title tells the story of this work.  We enter the scene, metaphorically speaking, after Jupiter and Io have made love.  Jupiter who was in the form of a cloud has left, dissipated, the cloud is dissolving.  Io is still aloft, still in the throes of sexual delight.  This effect is achieved in the lovely recumbent and limp figure of Io and the billowing drapery on which she lies.  But a sinister note is still apparent.  Dissipated can also mean dissolute, degenerate, lewd and lascivious: all names that could easily be used to describe Jupiter.  A sense steels into the scene that all is exposed and Juno is somewhere close and watching.  This sinister note is given visualization in the headdress that Io wears.  The horns, with the ever-present ribbons, allude to her unhappy future.

Stumped conte’ on tinted paper

Hand finished Italian rustic frame with silver leaf

silk wrapped mat

Image size 20” x 15”        

Frame size 30.5” x 26”

 

The Sun Watcher: Clytie

The Sun Watcher: Clytie

This story reverses the more common theme of god and mortal love in that the pursuer is the mortal rather than the god.  Clytie was spurned by the sun god when he turned his attention on her sister Leucothea.  Still Clytie could not abandon her devotion to Apollo and the lovesick girl literally wasted away by watching the sun cross the sky everyday.  This myth artfully explains the characteristics of the sunflower and the marigold.  The scientific name of the common sunflower is helianthus annuus, Helios is the Greek name for the sun-god.

        The story of Clytie is one of my favorite myths.  I love how the ancient myths made humans a part of nature.  Literally, mankind was made out of nature but also became and existed within the natural world.  It is a regenerative ethos quite distinct from the modern or rather the Judaeo-Christian concept of a natural world in which man is somehow above it, a defacto ruler of the earth.  With a myth like this it is easy to let the simplicity of a composition speak volumes.  Clytie seems to spring up out of the earth, but she is part of it and it is a part of her.  The intricate and fluttering headdress foreshadows the petals that will eventually grow from her hair.  What could be more to the point of the myth than a beautiful female form lovingly and longingly turning her head to the source of her love and what would ultimately become the sustenance of her life?

 

Stumped conte’ on tinted paper

Hand finished Italian rustic frame with silver leaf

silk wrapped mat

Image size 19” x 14.5”              

Frame size 30.5” x 26”