Mod­ern fan­tasy and sci-fi art as we know it was born out of the lit­er­ary world

ImagineFX - - Myths & Legends -

mid­dle-class was com­mis­sion­ing more morally charged, non-Bi­b­li­cal paint­ings. The clas­si­cal world of Greek and Ro­man myths, with their hu­man ideals and weak­nesses, were the per­fect sub­ject for money-mak­ers ea­ger to re­flect their in­creas­ing wealth and ge­nius.

print­ing leg­ends

Johannes Gut­ten­berg had brought the move­able type print­ing press to the West around 1450, and with it eas­ier ac­cess to sto­ries, old and new. “Mod­ern fan­tasy and sci­ence fic­tion art as we know it was born out of the lit­er­ary world,” ex­plains Charles. “Lit­er­ary icons such as JRR Tolkien and the cre­ator of Co­nan, Robert E Howard, have in­spired artists for eight decades with their char­ac­ters and fan­tas­tic plots.” Again, that’s not the whole story. Look­ing be­yond the Western borders, China had in­vented its print­ing press some 300 years ear­lier. Chi­nese artist Lor­land Chen ad­mits that Chi­nese myths don’t de­mand the same re­spect from his gen­er­a­tion as they once did. As one of the first artists to teach dig­i­tally in China, it was by look­ing back to an imag­ined past that he learnt about life. “Grow­ing up un­der Chair­man Mao and the fear of Western coun­tries wag­ing war, fam­i­lies were or­dered to build se­cret fac­to­ries and fa­cil­i­ties in hills, un­der­ground,” he re­calls.

De­spite a sense of isolation, Lor­land’s de­sire for in­for­ma­tion from non-party chan­nels brought him to his coun­try’s old myths. Char­ac­ters such as Houyi, the ce­les­tial archer, and Luo Shen, the beau­ti­ful god­dess who brought kings to their knees, helped Lor­land out of his shell. “People around the world have the same ques­tion: where are we from? The an­swers from myths are much more vivid than the ones from sci­ence.”

Oedi­pus & the Sphinx Greek myth flour­ished in 19th century im­agery, as French artist François-Xavier Fabre’s paint­ing shows.

Houyi the archer Chi­nese artist Lor­land Chen re­con­nected with his coun­try’s myths in his adult life.

mash up Anas­ta­sia Kus­tova’s take on the myth­i­cal crea­ture mixes Greek and Egyp­tian el­e­ments with a mod­ern twist.

The Groom Snake Ser­bian artist Vanja Todoric has painted for books on his coun­try’s myths and fairy tales.

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