Easter Holidays: Poseidon Painting

I have begun to make a painting depicting the Greek god of the Sea, Poseidon, getting strangled by an old six-pack ring. To create this painting, I used watercolours because they complement the marine subject matter.

The idea is a branch of this term’s environmental series, and it follows on from works such as my plastic bag manifesto and the landscape painted on a face scrub bottle. Like much of my work this term, it aims to portray plastic as a terrible plague that chokes life in the ocean.

Contrasting to my other work of this type this term, this piece has a human element. Although Poseidon is a god, one of the twelve Greek Olympians, the Greek gods do not pretend to be perfect and omniscient, like the God in Christianity, but are instead relatable and behave like humans. The aim with Poseidon’s inclusion here is to give the ocean a human ambassador and portray him as being choked by the ocean’s plastic, because perhaps a human element would be more emotive and persuasive to audiences. The purpose is to portray the physical pain and suffering that plastic causes sea life but apply it to a person to make the pain seem more real.

The idea was inspired by Khalil Chishtee’s art primarily, because his art also makes use of waste plastic, but depicts mostly human subjects, and as a result is extremely powerful and emotionally valuable. This persuaded me to experiment with a human element in my work. My depiction of Poseidon was inspired by this Greco-Roman Mosaic from the 3rdcentury. Poseidon appears noble and strong here, and I wanted my depiction to echo these attributes because Poseidon represents the sea, and I want the sea to attract respect and admiration from audiences. I was also partly inspired to choose a mythical subject by works such as Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dalí – these subjects open up a whole new part of human culture from which to draw inspiration.

Like the coral reef idea, this idea never saw completion because I favoured other ideas and therefore devoted more of my time to them. Although this may have been an effective exploration into areas I have not previously looked at, I set this idea aside for a few key reasons. The human element definitely stands out from the rest of the work I have been producing, however I fear that Poseidon is not a strictly relevant figure in modern culture, and that not enough people would know who he is to fully appreciate his significance in my work. Also, to do this artwork justice, I would have to spend much more time on it and perhaps make it a much larger scale. I also believe that both in terms of subject and medium, it is too far a deviation from my work thus far to make sense as a final piece.

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Initial sketch, depicting Poseidon, his mythical aquatic horses, all being strangled by a huge six-pack ring

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