Tuesday, February 16, 2021


Ageless Gouache on paper 2003
In the early 2000s I painted a series of works on paper that dealt with love, marriage, divorce. I was newly divorced, so my perspective was pretty raw. 

If you are a regular reader - yes, there are no drones in this post!

Part of the series included a series-within-a-series, where I appropriated Titian's early famous work Sacred and Profane Love ,1514 [below]. The painting is at the Borghese Gallery and Museum

Titian Sacred and Profane Love Oil on canvas 118 x 279 cm 1514

Sacred and Profane Love 
There has been much art historical discussion about the meaning of the Titian's painting. Questions like, which female figure represents sacred love, which represents profane love? There are questions over the title given to the painting too. Apparently the title Sacred and Profane Love may not have been recorded until the 17th century. However, there seems to be general consensus, due to various symbols in the painting, that love is a theme. For example, there is a cherub with wings, so it could be Cupid, and the clothed female figure holds a sprig of Myrtle, a symbol of marriage. This figure is also wearing what is considered bridal clothing for the period. And, the near-naked female figure is thought to be Venus, Goddess of  love, beauty, sex and fertility. I remember reading, somewhere, that the painting is a bridal portrait, but unusual for the times, because there is no husband included. Because the two women look very similar, they might represent multiple aspects of the bride - the sacred and profane, romance and lust, defiance and supplication? 

My Appropriations
In my appropriations Ageless and A Different Landscape I have replaced the distant small village, seen in Titian's painting, with modern cityscapes. In 2003, this was reference to me moving from the country to the city, when I got divorced. It could also demonstrate that themes of love traverse time. In Ageless, the dotted line is like a highway, a metaphor perhaps?

In Jigsaw and Love Puzzle the pastorale scene depicted by Titian is abstracted, with the figures merging into the landscape, becoming one with it. I have previously written about Love Puzzle in regard to landscape, and the image of the bride in the landscape. I have a whole other series dwelling on this theme too!

And, Cupid does not get a gig in any of my Titian-appropriated paintings! I am not sure why...

The face-less women elide the opportunity for portraiture to be considered. There is no gaze. And, in art historical terms this has implications - the history of the female gaze in art is oft discussed. Manet's appropriation of Titian's Venus of Urbino  [1534] to create Olympia [1863] provides just one example of where the significance of the female gaze is scrutinised - from allure to defiance. But in both cases who is the gaze and its inflection meant for. Many would say - men.

Jigsaw Gouache on paper 2003

In Monolithic Matriarchs the women are faceless, except for red circles. For me, in 2003, this indicated strength, a way to solidify the power of matriarchy. There are no gazes to be mistaken as seductive or defiant, no expressions that give away secrets. The six women repeat the figure of the bride in Titian's painting. The repetition reveals the powerfulness of her figure. The morphed shape of Venus is also repeated in the foreground. She forms the landscape on which the monolithic matriarchs are positioned. Love, lust, fertility and sex are not discarded in the matriarchy - they are private. 

So, what does it all mean - its up to you!


                                                Love Puzzle Gouache on paper 2003

                                             A Different Landscape Gouache on paper 2003

                                           Monolithic Matriarchs Gouache on paper 2003