Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Athena and her owl

On this second painting I was inspired by the divine figure of Athena, the Greek goddess of Wisdom, culture and the arts.  In ancient Greece she was the protector of the state, agriculture, industry, culture, law and order. She also stand for the virtue of prudence specially in war. The owl and the serpent are her sacred animals. There are many surviving representations of the ancient virgin goddess in statues, vases, coins and paintings. After doing some research on her story and attributes I started a painting based on a classical sculpture and from there added my own updated interpretation. I decided to portray her solemnly at night holding a spear and  a  white owl. Behind her lies a cemetery with a large pantheon like tomb housing a figure that subtly resembles that of the Virgin Mary and child. In the background we see electric posts that seem desolate and functionless as vegetation starts to grow over them. In the distant dark landscape we find artificial lights that hint the existence of a distant city. This picture is asking us to think about the myth of Athena in relation to our own civilization and its so called "modern progress". The goddess stares right at us as if waiting for us to respond to our current state of the world. Where are we heading to? It is a small painting measuring 10.5 inches by 14.5 inches. It is an oil painting on wood panel. The frame was made by my wife Blanca. It is wood and gold leaf with an application of the metal embossing technique in the inner part of it. This is the second completed piece of the series of paintings for "Eradorada" (Golden Age) There should 21 in total.


  1. Patrick~ Athena reminds me of Merlin, which I find captivating. With Merlin, he lives time backwards, coming from the future and knowing, already, what we are about to find out.How might that apply with Athena? j.segall

  2. You are right Judy! Athena, is born from Zeus head fully grown and fully armed, a mature, strong goddess. It does remind of of Merlin as well as other mythic beings that are just born fully grown and well aware of the future. The fact that she is born out of the crown of the Zeus head, the king of the gods, implies that she raises above him therefore has a very special place among the gods. In order to make her justice I could not think about a better composition than a frontal hieratic one to evoke her divine status. Thanks for the comment Judy!

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  5. when was the art completed?

  6. Thank you for this amazing depiction. I truly appreciate it.

  7. This piece was completed in fall 2009. It is interesting to see how much response this page has received. Thank you all for visiting and leaving your comments ;-) I am posting an article per week with lots of images and research regarding archetypes in art. Stay tuned and updated. Best to you all!

  8. Correct me if I'm wrong, the painting shows a Barn Owl but Athena's owl is an Athene Noctua owl. Athene Noctua is a different species of owl that is named after Athena herself.

  9. Good point, but this painting as much of my work is not about "historical accuracy" of a god or saint. It seems more interesting to me how these can be re contextualized with current issues in mind. Nonetheless, thanks for pointing that out.