Within the gamut of her adult memory, Josie Lee Francis has shared her days with the gods and heroes of ancient history. Her fervour and interest for the wealth of Greek myths is such that, now when time allows her to express her enthusiasm for art, her subject matter is often based on those same companions cast from their ancient tales.
Influenced by her interest in art movements of recent epochs, her stylised characters are made both current and cryptic with rich and dramatic colours. Evoking the recommendation of the famous Pre-Raphaelite William Morris, she ensures that little is placed on the canvas unless it expounds or enhances the tableaux she creates, topics of which are almost without limit. Possessors of a JL Francis painting will not only have a unique and topical piece to adorn their homes, but will also find their gaze returning to make yet another symbolic discover within the painting.
As her work so often conveys her passion for classical myths, each piece is complemented by the artist’s précis of its underlying tale.
The Judgement of Paris
When the mortal Peleus celebrated his marriage to the goddess Thetis (future parents of Achilles), the goddess Eris – she of strife and discord – was omitted from the guest list (big mistake – big!). Intent on living up to her unpleasant nature, she arrives at the banquet on Olympus and tosses onto the bridal table a golden apple inscribed with the word “Kallisti” (for the fairest).
Zeus had to pull apart the three squabbling goddesses who claimed the apple for their own: Athene, Aphrodite and Hera…who also happened to be the wife of Zeus. He wisely opted out of choosing from them (he may have been immortal, but an ear-bashing is an ear-bashing to man and god alike!) and sent the ladies to be judged by Paris, the son of Priam, King of Troy.
Paris was eventually sought and bribed by the three girls – lands and power galore by Hera, wise warmongering by Athene, and the best chick in town by Aphrodite. It was a tough choice for the young man, who happened to be pretty hot himself, but…he decided on Aphrodite’s beautiful offering.
I have attempted to encapsulate in this painting the myth of Paris and his fateful selection, which also embraces a wealth of symbolism, some most obvious are: Hera’s peacock eyes (a tribute to her one-hundred-eyed giant Argus); warlike Athene’s owl; the erotica of Aphrodite’s sexuality and successful conquest of the bemused and beguiled Paris; the all encompassed by the all-encompassing thunder of Zeus, who was to blame for this sorry mess in the first place. The colours are intentionally rich and dark to convey the catastrophic consequences of Paris’ judgement. After all, the beauty he was given as reward was Helen, which led to the famous Battle of Troy
…but that’s another story!
36" by 18"