Mythology in the contemporary world of Gabriel Grun

When looking at the history of art you notice that a lot of artists are influenced by others. One of those people is the contemporary painter Gabriel Grun. His work is interesting because of the way he visualises some of the oldest stories around. 

The first time I layed eyes on his work, I was a little bit in shock. But after looking through his work, I began to create some appreciation. Whenever I looked at a work it seemed as if I’d seen it before (but in a very different way). This is because he uses renaissance and baroque artists as a source of inspiration. He uses the same themes, but he will give it his own twist. 

 Gabriel Grun

Take this work for example, for those of you who aren’t that familiar with the Greek mythology. This is the story of Leda and the swan. As you may or may not know, Zeus is a true ladykiller in the stories. Every woman he saw he wanted to own, he wanted to make love with them. Leda was one of them. Although she refused. Zeus came up with a plan to transform himself into a swan and find comfort in her arms. They did more than that. Leda was so ashamed and went home to her husband to make love, nine months later she gave birth and the story ends with her laying eggs.

     Cesaro da Sesto                                                                                        Pontormo

Gabriel Grun shows a whole other side of the story than other artists. Compare this work with how the 16th century painters Cesaro da Sesto (after Leonardo Da Vinci) and Pontormo painted it. You could only imagine what was truly going on, the grand difference is that Gabriel Grun shows you.

Our modern society isn’t filled with so many taboos anymore, we practically get confronted with sex and nudity on a daily basis. We are used to the nudity, but not the way he portrays his subjects.

 Gabriel Grun

Another story with Zeus as one of the maincharacters is that of Danae and the golden rain. An oracle predicts that Danae her father is going to get killed by his grandson. To prevent this he locks his own daughter in a tower. Zeus had layed his eyes on Danae. He wasn’t supposed to show his true form to any mortals, they would be struck by lightning if he did. So he decided to transform himself in golden rain. He made her pregnant and nine months later Perseus was born.

  Gustav Klimt

In Gabriel Grun’s painting you get the feeling that you are looking at a rape, as a viewer you get directly confronted with the incident. Gustav Klimt‘s version hides the story more. In Klimt his work I get distracted by the eshetical aspects, by his typical geometrical shapes. Danae seems to be sleeping, she doesn’t seem in such distress as in the image Gabriel Grun produced.   

 Gabriel Grun

Another classical example is the image of three women. I made different associations with this one. They could be The Three GracesThe artist was able to show three different viewpoints with this composition. As seen in the work byPeter Paul Rubens.

Or this painting can be a reference to The Three Fates. The women who controlled who lived and who died by cutting a golden tread.

     Peter Paul Rubens                                                                                      Albrecht Dürer

Something else I noticed, Gabriel Grun uses the classical dark background and illuminated figures as seen in DürersAdam and Eve. 

Gabriel Grun choses not to paint extreme realistic bodies. He shows every shadow of the body, every muscle. A work where his figures show a strong expression is the one below.

Gabriel Grun

On his website he named the work Hemafroditabut after some close reading another story could be concluded. The story of Eve being born out of the rib of Adam. Could the apple be a reference to Eve eating a fruit of the forbidden tree?

A while ago I read a book and it mentioned the story of Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium.  The story goes as follows, man and woman were created as one being. They were so powerful that they could defeat the gods. Since Zeus didn’t wanted to be defeated he decided to part the two and cut them in  half. Henceforth, the man is always looking for his other half. 

If you want to see more work, you should visit his website : Gabriel Grun

K4

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