The Wonders of Greek Mythology
Exploring Ancient Tales and Timeless Wisdom

Reinar Foreman, Head of Daphne in Red (Tryptich), 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Galerie de Buci

In the vast tapestry of human storytelling, few narratives have captured the imagination and stirred the soul as profoundly as the myths of ancient Greece. Rooted in a rich tapestry of gods, goddesses, heroes and monsters, Greek mythology stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling to transcend time and culture. Motivated by the current exhibition at the Galerie de Buci, LIVING GODS, which features paintings inspired by Greek myths and figures, in this article we delve into this wondrous realm, embarking on a journey of discovery of the timeless wisdom and captivating tales that have enthralled audiences for millennia.

Reinar Foreman, The Abduction of Proserpina, 2024
Photo: Courtesy of Galerie de Buci
Greek mythology is as varied as it can seem unfathomable, but perhaps its most remarkable quality, overtime, has been its capacity to permeate the collective consciousness of audiences and cultures through the centuries and still today. Inextricably linked to another great civilization, Rome, Ancient Greek culture is not challenged by many in its power to captivate the imagination of peoples across time, even in the over-stimulated disposition of today’s contemporary scene. Join us as we explore this introduction to Ancient Greek mythology, from its pantheon of Olympic gods to the more relatable myths and legends that have become part of the Western canon in art history.
Alessandro Puttinati, Paolo e Virginia, 1844, and Reinar Foreman, Paolo e Virginia (The Girl Who Was Killed By Hypocrisy), 2024
Photos: @umbertoarte and Galerie de Buci

A Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses
At the very heart of Greek mythology lies a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each possessing their own distinct personalities, powers, and domains. At the zenith of Mount Olympus, Zeus, the king of the gods, reigns supreme with unrivaled authority. Hera, his queen and sister, embodies the ideals of marriage and family, while Athena, born fully armored from Zeus's head, embodies wisdom, strategy, and warfare. From Apollo, the god of archery and music (as seen in Reinar Foreman’s painting for LIVING GODS, Apollo), to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, or Dyonisos, god of wine and fertility (also the subject of a homonymous painting by Foreman), the Greek pantheon brims with a colorful cast of divinities, each playing a role in the cosmic theater of creation and destiny.

Dyonisos, Roman copy after 3rd century BCE Greek sculpture, and Reinar Foreman, Dyonisos, 2024
Photos: © The Trustees of the British Museum and Galerie de Buci

Myths and Moral Lessons
Greek myths, steeped in ancient lore and timeless wisdom, offer a captivating glimpse into the rich tapestry of human imagination and the enduring power of storytelling. Among the myriad of examples, two poignant tales stand out for their exploration of love, loss, and the inexorable forces of fate. The story of Persephone's abduction by Hades, god of the underworld, serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of temptation and the inevitability of change. As the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, Persephone frolics innocently in the fields until she is seized by Hades and taken to the underworld against her will. Her abduction plunges the world into darkness and despair, as her mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest, mourns her loss and refuses to let the earth bear fruit until her daughter is returned. Ultimately, Persephone is allowed to return to the surface for part of the year, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth, making her an emblem for Spring. The story, which Roman mythology adapted with the new names (Proserpina and Pluto), is featured not once but twice in the show LIVING GODS, with the title Abduction of Proserpina, following the composition of the well-known Baroque sculpture, of the same name, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rape of Proserpina, 1621-1622, and Reinar Foreman, The Abduction of Proserpina II, 2024
Photos: Courtesy of Creative Commons and Galerie de Buci

Apollo and Daphne: Love’s Bitter End
Similarly, the myth of Apollo and Daphne explores the transformative power of love and the tragic consequences of unrequited desire. Apollo, Olympic god, falls in love with the nymph Daphne, who flees from his advances and pleads with her father, a river god, to save her from Apollo's pursuit. In a desperate bid for escape, Daphne is transformed into a laurel tree, her flesh turning to bark and her limbs sprouting leaves. Apollo, unable to possess his beloved, is left to mourn her loss and immortalize her in the form of the laurel wreath, which becomes a symbol of victory and poetic inspiration. The myth offers profound moral lessons about the nature of love, desire, and the inevitability of change. Apollo and Daphne caution against the dangers of unchecked desire and the need for acceptance and understanding in matters of the heart. For LIVING GODS, Foreman depicts the myth following another of Bernini's world-famous compositions, also shown in the Galleria Borghese, reminding us that, in the timeless tales of Greek mythology, we find echoes of our own struggles and triumphs, illuminating the complexities of the human experience and offering insights into the mysteries of the soul.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1622-1625 and Reinar Foreman, Apollo and Daphne, 2024
Photos: Courtesy of Creative Commons and Galerie de Buci

Epic Heroes and Legendary Quests
Beyond the realm of the gods, Greek mythology is replete with epic heroes whose exploits have become the stuff of legend. Chief among them is Heracles, the mighty demigod renowned for his incredible strength and his twelve labors, which tested his courage and resolve. Perseus, armed with a winged helmet and a magical sword, embarks on a perilous quest to slay the dreaded Gorgon, Medusa. Jason and the Argonauts brave the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean in search of the Golden Fleece, while Odysseus, the wily hero of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey, endures a decade-long journey fraught with trials and tribulations on his quest to return home to Ithaca.

Reinar Foreman, The Greek Athlete, 2024
Photo: Courtesy of Galerie de Buci

A Legacy of Inspiration and Imagination
As we journey through the labyrinthine corridors of Greek mythology, we are reminded of the enduring legacy of these ancient tales and the profound impact they continue to have on art, literature, and culture to this day. From Renaissance or Baroque artists (like the ones referenced in LIVING GODS) to contemporary filmmakers and authors, artists of every stripe have drawn inspiration from the timeless wisdom and timeless tales of Greek mythology, weaving them into the fabric of our collective imagination. In the current exhibition at the Galerie de Buci, Reinar Foreman reinterprets a selection of myths from Greek Antiquity to remind us of the enduring power of storytelling to illuminate the darkest corners of the human soul.

Reinar Foreman, Head of Daphne in Blue (Tryptich), 2024
Photo: Courtesy of Galerie de Buci

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