20 x 28, acrylic
This is the fifth work of the Monstrous Children series. I've chosen to depict none other than... Romulus and Remus! These two rascals are believed to have been saved and nurtured by a she-wolf after their uncle Amulius attempted to kill them by sending them down the river Tiber in a basket... (When will people learn?! That never works!) Anyhow, the twins survived and were kept alive by this motherly she-wolf. This story is of particular significance because historians have traced the origins of Rome--and consequently the Roman Empire--back to these twins (see The Early History of Rome by Livy).
I find that this account of the origin of Rome offers an interesting contrast between the she-wolf and the twins (along with what they stand for). On one hand, the she-wolf is a strong and ferocious animal living and subsisting in the wild; a lifestyle which is representative of the ordered freedom found in nature. While on the other hand, Romulus and Remus, who are at first completely dependent on nature/the wolf for their survival, grow up to lay the groundwork for one of the largest empires in history... An empire from which the repercussions continue to resonate in the daily lives of people all around the world, including North Americans (particularly through the ripple effect of the Roman Catholic Church). Yet whether it be from a religious or political perspective, the impact the Roman Empire has had on history is enormous. If only in terms of the imperialist tone it has set for the West as a whole. While many empires have risen and fallen prior to the Roman Empire, some greater than the Roman Empire and some not, it remains that the Roman Empire has become a symbol of an excess of power leading to a tragic yet inevitable fall. While I'm not denying that the Akkadian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Ottoman Empires (and the list goes on) were in fact incredibly epic, the Roman Empire, its fall, and its lasting aftermath remain key components to understanding our own society in relation to the history of the "Western mentality".
But back to the artwork! This work was inspired by an ancient Roman sculpture (The Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus). I decided to dress up Romulus and Remus in modern clothes to emphasize the connection between the survival/upbringing/actions of the twins (dating back to 771 BCE) and the current affluent state of North American society. Here the twins are gorging themselves with the milk of the she-wolf to the extent that it begins to overflow from their mouths, while at the same time she appears emaciated from nourishing the twins without nourishing herself. The milk overflowing from their mouths represents a state of excessive luxury and consumption, as the twins are taking in more milk than they can handle. In other words, the twins are meant to reflect the abuse of "natural resources" by humans; as we take more than we need to satisfy a lifestyle characterised by excess.
Ok.. I've gone on for long enough I think.
I will see you all TOMORROW at Invisible Cinema!
P.S. Because I know most of the people who will read this have not studied the beautiful (yet dead) language that is Latin, here is what "Romani non erant sine culpa" means: "The Romans were not without fault". I'll let you make the connections..