Dynamic Myths (Ahmed Al-Khayyat)

Myths and legends are immortalized through art. This gallery includes mythological artwork from various periods that made use of movement of space.

An ancient relief depicting the mystery god Mithras killing a bull in front of the watchful eyes of the haloed Sol, the deific personification of the sun. Movement and space are utilized effectively as one is able to feel the struggle of Mithras, the bull and the other animals. There is no overcrowding of elements.
An oil on canvas painting depicting the Irish goddess Canola playing the harp, which she mythically invented. The goddess' grace is shown by her flowing hair and skirt, while the space around her characterizes the feeling of loss that overwhelms her. Being chained to the rock is a clear symbol of her imprisonment -- an allegory of Ireland's confinement to British authority.
Bernardo Strozzi's oil-on-canvas painting depicts the classic biblical story of David's victory over Goliath. The youthful David is seen standing triumphantly with the severed head of Goliath while also holding a large sword in his right hand. There is not much movement in this painting as there are depth and emphasis. The image is clearly dedicated to David who dominates the canvas while Goliath is almost lost to the darkness, with his beard fading into the black border below.
This Baroque oil-on-canvas painting shows the Roman god of war Mars sitting on a stone platform with his sword and shield on the ground beside him. He is watching an army advance in the distance as the god of love Cupid is flying by his side. In typical Baroque fashion, the painting contains great contrast, movement and space. Mars clearly appears to be turning as he observes the advancing host in the background as Cupid flits nearby. The dynamism is also accentuated by the use of space to showcase all these elements.
The quintessential god of dynamism in Greek and Roman mythologies is Hermes, or Mercury. As a messenger of the gods, his winged sandals allow him to traverse the distance between Olympus and the mortal realm with ease and speed. This painting shows the divine grace with which Mercury travels. He is hovering over the nymphs as they hold the infant god Bacchus on a rocky landscape. As stated above, the movement here is expressed most powerfully through Mercury. He commands himself in a way fitting to a god, high the air and in control of the elements.
This terra cotta sculpture pictures two devout followers of the wine god Bacchus engaging in a passionate ritual dance while Cupid is shown in the form of a wingless infant by their feet. Everything from the way the male follower is grasping the female, to the latter's motions in the air, and the infant Cupid is reaching up to them is an indication of dynamic movement. The sculpture comes to life as soon one looks upon it, reminding the audience of the orgies and drunken rites of the worshippers and adherents to the cult of Bacchus.
The Aladdin Vase shows a scene reminiscent of Japanese art. A dragon is seen rising out of the surface of the vase and grasping the actual neck of the vase, while a catfish is seen swimming below it. Swirls of air indicate a stormy weather, or perhaps a watery environment. The appearance of the dragon literally rising from the vase adds life to subject matter depicted. The viciousness of the dragon is emphasized while the catfish is seen to be avoiding it.
This vase, made in 1926, shows the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon listening to music, while other figures deliver gifts to them. The innovative style fuses the ancient Mesopotamian relief art with a slightly modern touch, presenting a work that is eerily beautiful and as timeless as the legend that is its subject matter. The space accommodates the central figures and the servants, while the gestures show clear movement.
In this painting, a group of fishermen are seen struggling to net a gigantic fish in a river with bystanders watching in wonder. A town is seen in the background. This rendering of a chapter from the Persian masterpiece, Gulistan, by the Islamic poet Sa'di, depicts the struggle of catching the giant fish is meticulous detail. The space is rich with action and detail, and the movements appear truly strenuous -- especially on the ones grasping the net.
This sculpture of the ancient Egyptian soul of Pe shows the hawk-headed personification of the concept of an eponymous town in Lower Egypt. Along with Nekhten, Pe is one of the ancestor deities of the ancient monarchs of Egypt, the pharaohs. Depicted in its known position, the soul displays a gesture that indicates divinity and patriotism. For despite the simplicity of the sculpture, one can truly sense the awe-inspiring magnitude of the ancient Egyptians through this movement.
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