Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Gustave Moreau / Jupiter and Semele

I've been looking at this incredible painting by Gustave Moreau quite a lot recently. He did it toward the end of his life, and it is probably a culmination of many of the themes, ideas & motifs he had used throughout his career. What strikes me most about it is the awesome (as in awe-inspiring) indigestibility of it, in that I could spend my life looking at it and possibly never manage to absorb all of it, never mind understand what is going on. The individual main theme of the painting, Jupiter revealing his true self to his lover (and the mother of Dionysus) & thereby killing her with his divine thunder and lightning, is straightforward enough, but that is almost the least of it. It seems as though every square inch of the canvas is covered with figures, or jewels, or plant forms, or fruit. The only element of relief is the deep blue sky, which the eye and mind must return to frequently, lest the density of imagery and paint exhaust the viewer...

In any case, I am feeling that I should produce a monumental, complex work, that might be as awe-inspiring and confusing as this one.

Gustave Moreau, Jupiter and Semele, 1894-5, oil on canvas, 83.8" × 46.5"

No comments: