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Fate, love and death - Charles Blackman's The Mirror tells the tale of Orpheus. Originally an ancient Greek myth, his version references Jean Cocteau's film of same name which utilizes mirrors.
This story begins with a song. The son of Apollo and Calliope, Orpheus is endowed with miraculous musical ability. An artist through and through, he falls head over heels for Eurydice and they spontaneously wed. Soon after however, she is bitten by a snake and banished to the land of death. Overcome with grief, Orpheus decides to venture into this realm and plead for her life.
For anyone else, this journey would be deadly - for Orpheus however, his gift of music is his saviour. With poetic song, he disarms the ferryman, three headed guard dog and eventually, king of the Underworld, Hayes. So charmed is Hayes, that he permits Eurydice’s freedom upon one condition - that as they exit, she must travel behind him and if Orpheus looks back at her, she will forever be banished to death. He agrees. As they ascend the stairs, the sun bursts into view. Struck by its radiating beauty, Orpheus turns to share the moment with his love. In doing so however, in doing so he betrays Hayes 's condition and Eurydice is condemned.
In The Mirror, Blackman draws these feelings. In a whirlpool of shape and shade, this work evokes the despair, passion and futility of Orpheus' s life. Perhaps recognising the fated muse in himself, The Mirror speaks of the intoxicating power of love and loss.
This is rare, poetic work by one of Australia's most celebrated artists.
Charles BLACKMAN (1928 - 2018)'Orpheus - The Mirror' 1983lithograph on paperEdition of 30Image Size: 36 x 24 cmPaper Size: 57 x 38 cmSigned: Signed Charles Blackman bottom, editioned and titled. Comes with Letter of Provenance Condition: Excellent
© Charles Blackman / Copyright Agency 2023
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