So many of my paintings feature a figure alienated from others and from his own being. I began to feel a heaviness of heart and considered a more joyful subject, simply a guy dancing. Coincidentally, I had recently seen Louis Smith’s painting of Prometheus in the news. His is a fine painting, but it seemed to me to owe too much to history. The subject of a bound Prometheus is an oft told tale in the history of painting and I questioned myself as to how I would tell the story. I thought of it like a musician covering a song. In the best covers, the other musician recreates the song, taking ownership of it.
Prometheus is called the Fire Bringer and in some readings of the myth this fire is the very spark of consciousness. Music here is not only the metaphor but the conduit for this fire. The ancient story tells of Prometheus stealing fire from the lightning of Zeus and bringing it to humanity concealed in a fennel stalk. In my painting, you’ll note the guitar case bearing a Fennel logo. Prometheus was chained to a rock. The members of Prometheus Band have chains to their wallets. You’ll note the Yuengling sign glowing in the background with its prominent eagle logo, referencing the eagle that would peck at Prometheus’ liver.
There is a subplot in the background. Prometheus’ brother, Epimetheus looks across the room at Pandora. Against the warning of his brother, Epimetheus accepts Pandora as his bride. It is apparent that Pandora’s box has been opened, as she is pregnant. Hope however remains in her, unborn.
In the foreground, there is a plate of chicken wing bones. This is a reference to another of Prometheus’ offenses. He tricked Zeus into accepting an offering of bones covered in fat, allowing humans to keep the meat for themselves.
There can be more truth in myth than in mere fact. Mythology points to higher truths whereas facts can only document. Next time you see a guy cutting a little rug to a tune that’s touched a place he didn’t know he had, join him and be thankful for the gift of that Promethean band.
- Annabelle’s Curse (in their original three-piece form) as the Prometheus Band
- Fellow painter and picker Sam Morrow as Man
- My go-to bar, Machiavelli’s, sets the stage
- Good friend Brian Andrews plays Epimetheus
I usually have a few colors that I become enchanted with during a painting. Cobalt Turquoise Light was a favorite here.