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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Elizabeth Torak: The Feast of Venus

Elizabeth Torak - The Feast of Venus I
oil painted on Belgian Linen
no copyright infringement intended

Activity in The Feast of Venus I centers around the preparation of a seafood soup. Water, often associated with the feminine, is a metaphor for intuition and the unconscious mind. The mythology of Venus is that she was born from the sea. The Feast of Venus I is suffused with water: steam rises from the simmering soup while the spray from a hose washes down a pile of vegetables. The palette is based on ocean colors: umbers, ochres, blues and greens. At the center of the composition three cooks surround a large pot. They sprinkle salt, taste and add vegetables while other cooks peel potatoes, dice carrots and handle produce. Heaps of vegetables, fish, and shellfish strew the scene – products of the earth and sea. Like a bonfire on the beach, the fire at the center sets off the color harmony and simultaneously ignites the metaphor: the flame under the kettle converts produce into soup as the fire of imagination makes art out of life.
The figures in the painting are clearly inspired by contemporary women but are depicted in an archetypal space rather than in a modern kitchen. This ambiguity cues the viewer that the scene is not located in a specific time or place. Rather, it inhabits a timeless present and depicts the world of internal rather than external experience. The women themselves are enigmatic, powerful, strong and feminine, they seem paradoxically both familiar and mythological, ordinary and extraordinary. Theirs is not the ideal beauty of Boticelli’s Venus but the quotidian beauty that most women find in the mirror and in each other. There is, perhaps, something defiant in Torak’s implicit insistence that this kind of beauty is worthy of attention and elevation.

On view at Principle Gallery (208 King Street, Alexandria, VA)

(Principle Gallery)


  • Wonderful work of art! Thanks for the information about this artist. She does fascinating work!

    By Blogger barbara l. hale, at 12:22 PM  

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