The Road to Eleusis

The road to Eleusis Painting by artist Andrew Conti

The Road to Eleusis, Acrylic on Canvas, 12″ x 16″, 2015

I’ve been in the throws of experimentation. Re-asserting my love of thick black graphic lines. The kinds of lines I was told to avoid in no uncertain terms by a less than favored art teacher of my school days. And the kind of black lines that drew me to the work of Max Beckmann when I was quite young, and all those beautiful Ukiyo-e prints.

But these days I’m certainly not talking about either of those. I am in the midst of exploring and formulating, and a lot of what is surfacing is my first art love as a child – which is of course all those silver age comic books I devoured. The black lines of those books were the first drawings to fill my mind.

And now, I am mixing them into my language a little more directly than I previously have. Still I am sitting squarely in the word of abstraction, but I am starting to feel my sense of that loosen, even as I painted this. A lot of new thoughts have been circling in terms of the directions I will go with my work over the next few months. There are guardian creatures on the horizon, but how to get to them is still a question in my mind.

I have been reading up on another of my childhood loves over the past few weeks as well. That is on Greek, Roman, and a bunch of other mythologies. In particular tales of mythical creatures and household gods. I’ve also been spending some time researching odds and ends related to them – their stories, their demeanor, and the places they inhabited. And that led me to the thoughts behind this painting.

The Road to Eleusis refers to the road between it and Athens. A sacred way, for ancient Greece. And a lot of interesting things happened along this road. Most famously it was traversed by Demeter in her search for Persephone to return her from Hades. And it was also the road along which Theseus traveled and encountered Procrustes. The latter being the son of Poseidon who had a bed that could fit anyone. A fact he made real by either stretching his visitors on the rack, or cutting their legs off to fit. This is of course where the expression procrustean bed comes from – that being an attempt to force conformity to a subjective idea or practice.

These myths are ripe of course. So they are good for the travels and experiments right now. There are distinct paths ahead, but in getting on to the paths I embrace new colors, new lines, and new forms.