Psychomachia:Turbulent Seas

Award-winning artist Kristel Bechara has unveiled a series of paintings that are inspired by the turbulent events of the past year, encouraging viewers to find hope from within. This series of paintings is named after an epic poem from the early fifth century AD by the Latin poet, Prudentius. Considered one of the most influential works in medieval allegory, the themes and ideas explored in the poem, Psychomachia, are timeless with its many verses being of great relevance particularly in today’s time.

The plot of the poem revolves around the battle between the virtues of Hope, Sobriety, Chastity and Humility against the vices of Pride, Wrath, Paganism and Avarice. This battle culminates with each virtue prevailing over its opposing vice, with Chastity defeating Lust, Anger surrendering to Patience and Love being victorious over Greed. All the characters in the poem are portrayed as women because linguistically, Latin uses feminine pronouns when abstract concepts are being discussed. This series is also an exploration of the battle between good and evil and all the grey areas in between. Each painting is an invitation of self-exploration and discovery through Kristel’s signature style of contrasting and expressive colours. The series reimagines Greek mythology through Kristel’s contemporary lens, taking viewers on a journey within. The paintings portray mythological figures and fables in a new light, from a perspective that will leave the viewer asking poignant questions about life, love, values and the human condition. The collection is available starting from AED25,000.

One of the key pieces is “Sea of Life” – sailing and the sea have eminent roles to play in Greek mythology, with the nautical voyage one has to take to get to Hades and the primordial waters of Oceanus, being some of them. Symbolically, sailing has represented a spiritual journey with the rough waters representing the ebb and flow of life. This journey is meant to be an introspective one where the person takes a deeper dive into their consciousness to discover their Higher Self, their true calling. Just like the ocean in the oeuvre, Life is full of uncertain waves that bring challenges and obstacles as we try to sail our galleons in this journey of self-discovery. Going by the rules of sailing, why should we sail against the current and risk losing ourselves in the struggle? Why can we not work with the currents of Life and let ourselves be guided to our path and our destiny? As they say, it is not the destination that matters, it is the journey that gives us the clarity and understanding of who we are and where we are headed.