The Morphing Feminine, is the latest show at the Olivier Cornet Gallery. This is a visual artists’s response / reaction to -and possibly- re-reading of- various aspects of the feminine in James Joyce ‘s novel Ulysses and in the author’s life. This art exhibition is part of this year’s Bloomsday Festival. This exhibition will run until 20th of July 2020.
The title of the exhibition is a reference to Dr Caroline Elbay’s talk at the James Joyce Centre on 4th November 2019:“Throwing Shapes: The Morphing Feminine in Joyce”
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bean [ban] (meaning ‘woman’ in Gaelic*)
In referencing James Joyce’s alter ego Dedalus, this work reimagines the story according to a woman’s perspective (“Bean”[ban] meaning woman in Gaelic).
In Joyce’s first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he traces the religious and intellectual awakening of a male protagonist Stephen Dedalus who is also an important character in Ulysses. Based on the Greek mythological figure, Daedalus was seen as a symbol of wisdom, knowledge and power. In this painting I’ve represented the woman as the icon, the revered in society as opposed to what was in the past a male domain, containing male perspectives and male portraits as it were.
The work is an abstract representation of the female portrait. On one hand we see her fragmented and constrained; commenting on a woman’s place in society and the obstacles she encounters; on the other hand we see strong bold colours; contrasting shapes; light and dark; soft and hard which in all strike as an alternative visual rendition of the woman’s chapter to Joyce’s Alter Ego, Dedalus – a complex symbol of female wisdom, knowledge and power.
Circe’s Spell: Bloom and Dedalus
This work refers to the chapter Circe in Joyce’s Ulysses. In Greek mythology, Circe was a Sorceress, and represented by the gender shifting Bella Cohen in Ulysses. In this chapter, Bloom and Dedalus face their demons and enter the dark underworld (Nighttown), where they encounter the dominating Bella Cohen (Circe). The diptych is a type of sigil magic, representing female power and energy. Both upright triangles represent the masculine, as well as being a symbol of the occult, referring to Joyce’s own personal interest with the occultism, theosophy; and the study and practice of magic.
(Ref: Carver, Craig. “James Joyce and the Theory of Magic.” James Joyce Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 3, 1978, pp. 201–214).