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stephen linsteadt

Box of Beauty l Stephen Linsteadt

Box of Beauty, oil on canvas, 193 x 203 cm, 2020

This painting was inspired by the quarantines imposed due to the pandemic. Many people suffered depression and intense feelings of isolation and despair as a result. I wanted to capture the struggle between succumbing to feeling cut-off or using the time for creative inspiration. The title comes from the story of "Psyche & Cupid." More specifically to the task Psyche must carry out of bringing the 'box of beauty,' located in Hades, back to Venus. She is warned not to open the box, but of course she does. As a result, she falls into a 'deathly sleep.' I see the beauty in the box as representing our Soul. Our curiosity/desires open the box and subsequently we fall asleep to the spiritual world and enter the sleep/dream state of this physical world. The large dreaming figure casts a shadow: our dark side, our worldly desires, as well as our depression and feelings of isolation. The dancing figure is our inner child or the part in us that wants to be free and return to our spiritual nature.

I searched the internet for an image of a child dancing and found a Saturday Night Live video of Kristen Wiig dancing with child star Maddie Ziegler to the song "Chandelier" by Sia. The setting was the perfect jumping off point for what I was trying to say visually. I later discovered that the upbeat nature of the song has a dark side-describing the girl (Sia?) as being in a self-destructive death spiral. I provided a window of light, à la Bonnard, as a metaphor for hope.

Copyright © 2020 Stephen Linsteadt. All rights reserved.