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stephen linsteadt

Of Sky and Earth #43 l Stephen Linsteadt

Of Sky and Earth #43 (Ariadne's String), oil on canvas, 193 x 212 cm, 2020

My interested in mythology, the journey of the hero, and particularly of Psyche and Eros eventually brought me to Peter Paul Rubens and his painting titled "The Andrians" (a rendition of Titian's earlier painting "The Bacchanal of the Andrians"). Bacchus is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Dionysus, the god of harvest and winemaking. The painting depicts a riotous party on the island of Andros, with partygoers drinking their fill from a river made of wine.

"Ariadne's String" is an amalgamation of elements from Rubens and Titian with an emphasis on my own dream images and a certain randomness of form and brushstroke (automatism). The central figures were inspired by my observations of the gender identity crisis that has erupted from the collective consciousness. What was once taboo is now in the forefront of art, social media, and society in general. Judy Chicago's work of bringing women's issues out of the closet paved the way for female expression but also for a shameless expression of humanism.

Ruben's images of Cupid and Venus are replaced with a cat in a box. My cat's name is 'King'. He adopted me when I first moved to Brazil. I call him a Zen cat because of his black and white markings. He is an example of patience and tolerance-the antidote to society's xenophobia of the central figures painted as a swirling of humanity caught up in today's political, social, and self-identity upheaval.

Ariadne's string is not specifically depicted but hinted at by the Rubens-red of the background fabric. It is the unseen impulse that helps guide us from our preoccupations with loneliness, despair, injustice, and anger in a world that is spinning out of control and leads us to the white crane pointing to a higher perspective that is ripe with the potential for change and personal growth.


Copyright © 2020 Stephen Linsteadt. All rights reserved.