Monday, January 18, 2016

Daria's Travel Guide: Cordoba, Spain

Nicolas, the boys, and I drove from Granada to Cordoba for the day to see the Great Mosque of Cordoba. If you decide to drive like we did, do yourself a favor and don't try to drive all the way to the Mezquita through the Jewish quarter. Like El Albaisin in Granada, the Jewish Quarter is full of incredibly beautiful cobbled streets the exact width of a compact car (less its mirrors). Once we squeezed the car through, we had a wonderful time exploring the city.

The web of narrow streets lets out to a light filled plaza with the tall stucco wall that encases the Mezquita. It was a very interesting structure to approach, walking out of a dense forest and stumbling into Goldilock's tower out of the blue.

We passed through a huge bronze door with lion head knockers. Through the gate, the space opens up to a vast Orange grove where the Moorish worshippers would come to wash their hands and feet before proceeding into the main hall to worship five times a day. The orange trees were actually imported by Prince And al-Rahman I when he escaped to Cordoba and made it his home after being driven out of Damascus.

The Great Mosque has quite a complicated history. The site began as part of the Roman Empire as a temple (possibly for the Roman god Janus). In the 6th century, the Visigoths took control of Cordoba and built a basilica in its place. Muslims then built the grand Mosque of Cordoba over this basilica between the 8th and 12th centuries. Even during the breadth of the Moorish control of Cordoba, the Mosque was expanded several times. Cordoba was taken by Christian rule again in 1236, at which point, around half of the columns were destroyed to replace a basilica in the center of the newly re-converted mosque. Currently, you can see a mixture of the early Moorish architecture mixed with the standard Renaissance style architecture of the Christian cathedral.

What we are left with is an incredibly impressive, although occasionally puzzling building with over 900 beautiful horseshoe arches mixed with webbed vaulting and figural decorations of Christian saints (Representations of figures would have always been forbidden in a Mosque).

This is the original mihrab. It is not considered acceptable to include animorphic images within a Mosque or holy place, thus this holy space is decorated lavishly with geometric patterns, images of plants and vines, and beautifully gilded texts. The patterns are created in a mosaic with tiny tesserae made of glass with gold leaf backing. The imam would speak from this space. It is along the quibla wall and faces the Kaaba, the holiest of Muslim monuments, where every single follower of Islam prays five times a day.

The mihrab, where the Imam would speak would generally have a beautifully decorated mihrab dome above it. The acoustics of the room actually helped the Imam's message spread through the massive building.

The one thing I really enjoyed about the Christian renovations was the beams of light passing through the stained glass windows.

Hours and Info:       8 €  entry fee
Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 8:30-11am

After an afternoon exploring Em Mezquita, we wandered back into the winding streets of the historic district to find Doble de Cepa, a wonderful cafe that I read about that serves authentic tapas with a side of live music in an atrium enclosed with a glass roof. We were the first ones to get there, and thought the place was closed, but as was the usual for our trip, fifteen minutes after we sat down, the restaurant filled up and the singing began! It was a lovely place. 
A lovely gentleman, who did not speak English came by to help us order. We had planned on ordering a rice dish, but apparently the chef who cooks the rice dish was sick, and they do not serve sub-par dishes so they recommended a variety of other dishes. We ended up ordering the Pescaito frito, a dish of fried small fishes with a side of lemon, the Tortilla Espagnola (a Spanish Omlette with potato), and a tapa of Jamon (the cured ham). Despite being half portions, they were very plentiful, and with a full portion of the Rabo del Toro (bull tail stew with potatoes), we had more than enough for four! We split a bottle of house wine, a Rioja that was very lovely and quite inexpensive. 

Doble de Cepa  |  Calle Martinez Rucher 9   |    +34 957 94 46 73   |   Monday-Sunday 9am-12am (Music starts between 2-3pm)

Cafe-Taberna Luque |  Calle Blanco Belmonte 4  |    +34 699 80 65 60  |   Amazing spanis food, Antonio helps you try - try oxtail - Make reservations!
Boraito Andalusi  |  Calle Lucano 19, Plaza del Porto  |    +34 633 78 61 55 |   Wed-Mon 12:30pm-1am   |   tiny place, authentic, inexpensive Moroccan 
Cerveas Califa |  Calle Juan Valera 3  |    +34 678 42 83 30  |   Mon-Thur 11am-4pm, 7pm-2am Fri-Sat 11am-2am  |   Craft brewery, some good snacks

Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos  |  Tues-Fri 8:30am-8:45pm, Sat 8:30-4:30pm, Sun 8:30-2:30pm  |   8 €  entry fee, 2 €  bell tower
Tablao Flamenco Cardenal  |  flamenco concert venue  |   Mon-Sat 9:30-11pm   |   23 
Archeological Enselble of Madinat Al-Zahara (en route to Seville)   |   Tues-Sat 9am-5:30pm, Sun 9am-3:30pm  
10th century castle site of king who built the Mesquita 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Daria's Travel Guide: Granada, Spain

Granada was my favorite city in Andalusia, the charm and energy of the whole area could not be beat! I think my charmed view of Granada may be due to where Nicolas and I stayed while we visited. When I first began researching the city, I noticed how beautiful all of the architecture in the El Albaicin neighborhood was. It is the old Moorish quarter of the city, with streets so narrow and winding that cars are not allowed in the bulk of the neighborhood. In fact, we walked down one stair-filled alley that was only 24 inches wide.  All of the streets are a curious mixture between cobbled stone and mosaic. Small pebbles in white and black are used from wall to wall on every single street in El Albaicin. The craftsmanship is incredible!

El Albaicin gets its name from the people of Baeza, who fled to Granada after Christians took control of their city in the 13th century. Many Andalusian cities were taken over by the Christian kings in the 13th century, but Granada remained in control of the Muslims until the late 15th century where Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon defeated the Nasrid dynasty during the Granada War. Because of this, many nobles from other cities arrived in the city between the 12th and 15th centuries as their own cities were conquered. This established a wealthy and culture-filled neighborhood full of beautiful homes!

I got it into my head that I wanted to stay in one of the historic homes instead of a standard hotel. Nico and I decided on the Casa del Arjalife, a beautiful 17th century Moorish home, I could not recommend it more! The entryway is a historic wooden door that leads into a fairly dark parlor. Through the parlor, you are released into an outdoor patio filled with lemon and persimmon trees and colorful, tiled fountains. Up a narrow stairway from the patio, we found ourselves in our own parlor that led to a large bedroom up a set of antique wooden steps, and to two bathrooms on the adjoining side. All of the furniture was antique and of a lovely dark wood, the tile floors were covered with colorful rugs. A set of wooden shutters in the bedroom revealed a view of the stone-cobbled piazza outside.

Casa del Aljarife    |     Placeta de la Cruz Verde, 2, Albayzin     |     +34 958 222 425
95ish €  per night

Granada is most famous for  the Alhambra, which is situated on a large hill adjacent to the hilly neighborhood of El Albaicin. We climbed to one of the highest elevations, to the Mirador de San Nicolas, a plaza overlooking the city which has one of the best views of the Alhambra.

We arrived a half an hour before sunset and the plaza was already packed with avid photographers awaiting the sunset. The view was definitely worth the crowd. You can see the entirety of the city, thousands of buildings covering the hilly landscape with tall cypress trees piercing the horizon. As the sun set, the most beautiful colors mingled with the mist on the horizon. The moment the sun pierced the horizon, the Alhambra lit up for its evening show. It was beautiful! I definitely recommend taking the hike to see this view.

The Granada Cathedral was begun in 1523 by Queen Isabella and Carlos (Charles) V. The architect, Enrique Egas, began the cathedral in the Gothic style. After five years, he was replaced by Diego of Siloam, who decided to continue construction in the Renaissance style. The bulk of the cathedral was built in the 16th century in the Renaissance style and completed in the 18th century with Baroque details.  This is a complicated story, complicated further by the fact that the cathedral was built on top of the ruins of the ancient mosque. 

Like the Malaga cathedral, it was not completed to its original plan. It too is missing its South tower, however this was due to structural problems. The tower that was built had to be lowered because the original Gothic-style foundations could not withstand the weight and mass of the tower. 

Hours and Info:
Monday-Saturday 10:45am-1:30pm, Daily 4pm-7pm 
4 €  entry fee

The beautiful entryway into the Nasrid Palaces at the Alhambra (left). We finally got to go to Spain's most famous monument on the morning of New Years Eve. I did not know about this, but it is very difficult to get into the Alhambra. It is recommended that you buy tickets online one month in advance. If you don't get this memo in enough time, you can wait for tickets in line the morning of, but prepare to get there incredibly early. We arrived at 8am, but the line was already over 500people thick and wound around and around the courtyard. By 9am, all of the tickets into the palaces for the morning and afternoon shifts were sold out. When you buy a ticket, you get a specific half an hour to enter the Nasrid Palaces, but can visit the rest of the Alhambra complex and the Generalife and gardens at your own pace. We missed out on the tickets when we waited in line, but somehow, I was able to find tickets for the morning of December 31st online. We added an extra night at the hotel just to get to go, and it was definitely worth it!

The Alhambra is quite a hike to get to, and with good reason. The palaces were originally a military complex begun by Muhammad I al-Ahmar, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty. He decided to build his court on this large hill which he fortified and built the Alhambra starting in 1238. Over the years, the complex was expanded upon and developed in two sections: the military barracks known as the Alcazaba and the Nasrid Palaces at the core of the Alhambra. 

Yusuf I was the builder of the Comardes Palace with its beautiful still reflecting pool. He was the seventh of the Nasrid rulers (above right). This is the most important part of the Alhambra: where the Sultans lived and the throne was located. Each wall was elaborately carved and detailed. The top is stucco with ridiculously intricate detail and text carved out. The bottom are tile mosaics, each of those colors is a separate tile. Unfortunately, some sections were destroyed when Carlos (Charles) V constructed his own palace in the structure after the Christian Kings defeated the Muslims in Granada. 

Muhammad V, is best known for his addition to the Alhambra of the famous Palace of the Lions. The entire palace is named after the fountain in the courtyard being held up by almost life size carved lions. Although this was acceptable for a palace since that was not a holy place, there are not a lot of examples of large-scale, free-standing sculpture in the Moorish world.

The Sala de Dos Hermanas (Hall of the two Sisters) so called because of two identical marble flagstones in the floor features an incredible dome! It is possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Light piurs through the 16 arched windows in the dome and the carvings in the ceiling make it look like shimmering leaves on an alabaster tree. The hall of the two sisters is part of the Palace of the Lions created by Muhammad V. You can actually see the lion courtyard out of one of the arched entryways. I was really interested in the contrast of light between the two spaces.

The Alhambra palaces are an amazing complex and worth all of the insanity required in going to see them! When you are done exploring the places, stroll across to the gardens at Generalife. The Generalife was the summer palace of the Moorish Kings where they sought to escape the busy life of the official court palaces and barracks. The palace was built by Muhammad III and used to connect to the Nasrid palaces with a covered walkway. The architecture is presently a simpler version of the main palaces, but the gardens are impeccable. The style of the gardens is well preserved and they are considered one of the oldest examples of surviving Moorish gardens. As you walk around, notice the shallow ravines of water throughout the complex. The water flows slowly downhill to power all of the water features in the complex.

The view of Granada from the tallest tower in the generals quarters at Alcazaba.

Hours and Info:
Monday-Saturday Morning ticket 8:30am-2pm Afternoon 2-6pm
14 €  entry fee (buy online in advance)

Well, now you have wandered around El Albaicin, climbed to the top of the Mirador de San Nicolas, seen the Granada Cathedral, and explored the Alhambra…time to eat!

Our first evening in El Albaicin, we decided to try a local restaurant just a few windy turns away from where we were staying called El Trillo restaurant. We found it with the help of the blue dot on my GPS and the ceramic direction tiles on the sides of the buildings that informed us how many meters away it was. The unassuming entrance led to a beautiful interior with a wooden stove and huge windows to a garden patio. The decorations were a mixture of the Christian and Moorish architecture that we have already become accustomed to, as well as little inklings of Hindu and Buddhist imagery. I found several basins of air dried fruit an incense, and a seated buddha in the atrium that led to the bathrooms. In the bathrooms, I found the famous illuminations of Krishna and Radha. I have never seen so many religions depicted so elegantly in one space. I am sure someone who was not looking for them would have never noticed anything but the warmth of the fireplace and the delicious food.
We had Huevos a la Flamenco (eggs with jamon and veggies), squids in their own ink, boar risotto topped with raspberries, and a hazelnut chocolate cake with homemade icecream! It was all delicious! The restaurant is a bit on the pricer side, but everything was incredible and all made in house.

El Trillo  |  Callejon del Aljibe de Trillo 3   |    +34 958 2251 82   |   Opens at 7pm! 

The next day, we had lunch at Entrebrasas, a tapas restaurant known for their variety of roasted meats. It is fairly inexpensive and did not disappoint! We ordered some wine and were given a free roast pork tapa with olives. Nico ordered roast pork back with a side of kumato tomatoes, and I ordered Ox with potatoes. The dishes were dressed simply and came with a side of salt crystals, which were all formed into perfect little pyramids. It was very beautiful. And the deliciously cooked meat (order your ox medium-rare) did not need any other dressing than a little pyramid of salt. It was a delicious meal.

Entrebrasas  |  Calle Navas   |    +34 657 34 02 41   |   Tuesday-Saturday 1pm-12am (make reservations at busy hours)

After the Alhambra, we stopped into Picoteco 3 Maneras for lunch. This was a nice twist on Andalusian food with an Asian influence. We arrived just before the place became completely crowded, I seem to have had a knack for arriving before huge crowds in Andalusia. We ordered some Fritura Japo-Andalusia (a mixture of fried fish with an Asian dipping sauce), the Bravas y Gratinados (potatoes in a tomato/roast pepper sauce with a lime cream) which was incredibly delicious! As well as some pasta de langostos which had a cream sauce flavored with paprika and shrimp with enough dipping sauce for all of our extra bread! This was a great place too!

Picoteco 3 Maneras  |  Calle Santa Escolastica  |    +34 958 22 68 18   |   Monday-Saturday 1pm-4:30pm, 8pm-12am

Near El Albaicin past the Mirador De San Nicolas, you will find the gypsy neighborhood and the Varea Cave dwellings. Here, you can see some amazing Flamenco performances and even eat dinner while you watch. We went to the Jardines de Zoraya and saw a beautiful and heartfelt show, a sangria and tapa are part of the ticket price.

Jardines de Zoraya  |  Calle Panaderos 32  |    +34 958 20 62 66   |   Daily performances 20 €

Meson el Cordobes  |  Artesano Molero 5  |    +34 958 20 80 08  |   Authentic, $$$
Cacho & Pepe  |  Calle Colcha 6  |    +34 678 08 99 87 |   Wed-Mon 12-4:30pm, 6-10:45pm   |   Great Italian, only 2 tables
El Quinteto |  Calle Solarillo de Gracia 4  |    +34 958 26 48 15  |   Tues-Sat 1pm-12am  |   Great place with wine and tapas
Alexander |  Calle Maria Lucia des Dios 5  |    +34 958 28 18 24 |   Mon-Sat 9:30-3am  |   Eclectic bar with amazing drinks
Pasteleria San Jose |  Carril Del Pican 20  |    +34 958 28 70 34 |   Mon-Sat 8am-3pm, 5-9pm  |   All reviews in Spanish, 5 stars - Pastries!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Daria's Travel Guide: Malaga, Spain

We only spent one day in Malaga, it was the cheapest city in Andalusia to fly into, but it was a lovely place to begin out adventure in Spain. We spent the morning and afternoon wandering the windy streets and finding bits of history to discover. 

After walking into its orange grove, we decided to take a tour of the Malaga Cathedral. 

The Malaga Cathedral was built over the course of over two centuries. It was begun in 1528 after the Cristian Kings conquered Malaga and completed in 1782. Christians kings took over Malaga from the Islamic Kalifs in the mid 1400's (who had, in turn, took over from the Byzantine kings in the 700's, who took over after the decline of the Roman Empire). It is said that the cathedral is built either on or near the foundation of a former mosque (similarly to many other Andalusian cathedrals).

Due to the multiple influences and the length of construction, the cathedral was begun in the Renaissance style and completed in the 18th century in the Baroque style. If you look up on the facade, you can also see Moorish influences. 

Like other cathedrals of the time period, the original plans called for two towers, but only one was ever constructed due to lack of funds. it is rumored that the funds were donated to the American Independence. The cathedral still stands with only one tower, and it has been nicknamed affectionately by the locals as La Manquita, the one armed one.

In the interior, you can see the melding of Renaissance, Baroque, and Moorish styles. I was particularly impressed by the compound piers and the series of decorated domes above the aisles. Within the choir, are two incredible organs which were created during the 18th century. They are considered rare and beautiful and are prized by the city. They have more than 4000 pipes together and are still frequently used. Unfortunately, we were not there during a service and did not have the opportunity to listen to the 300 year old organs. 

Hours and Info:
Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Closed Sunday
5 €  entry fee

The Alcazaba was our first treat of truly Moorish architecture! It, along with the cathedral, are Malaga's two most significant landmarks. There are actually two Moorish fortresses in the city (the other being the Castillo de Gibralfaro) but we only had time for the one. 
The building is definitely more fortress-like than the Alhambra, but if you are not able to make into the Alhambra (which is quite a challenge without planning a month in advance), this is definitely not a place to miss. There is not as much carving and beautiful multi-lobed arches as the Alhambra, but the structure of the building gives you the idea of Moorish castle architecture, and the views are breathtaking.
The relative simplicity of the castle may be accounted for by the time of construction. It is an earlier building, constructed between 756-780 by the first Emir of Cordoba Abd-al-Rahman I on the ruins of a Roman fortification. As the first ruler of a newly conquered land, more emphasis would go on creating fortifications than luscious decoration. Its original purpose was defense against pirates. It was rebuilt between 1057 and 1063 by the Sultan Badis Al-Ziri. The more decorative features were additions by the Nasrid ruler Yusuf I much later in the 1300's.

Hours and Info:
Open daily 
Summer: 9am-8pm Winter 9am-6pm
Closed Jan 1, Feb 28, Dec 25
2.20€  entry fee (.60 for students!)

What to eat when you're there!

We ate at El Meson de Cervantes, a wonderful little tapas bar and restaurant that I found online before going. It was a narrow space and we sat at a little high-top table that overlooked the bar. The walls were elegantly decorated, and the wines well arranged on bookshelves. Upon further inspection, you notice dozens of glass containers, filled with thousands of wine corks from the happy diners that have come here for tapas or a drink.

It was our first night in Spain, so we decided to try a bunch of different tapas. I was really excited about a blood sausage dish, served on wedges of sweet potato and topped with quail egg (top right). It was a beautiful dish, and the blood sausage was cooked very nicely. I would have never expected the combination! I think my plan for the bulk of the trip was try what looks the oddest to me! We also had stuffed peppers with ricotta cheese and some other delicious things I forgot about (top left). Our second wave of dishes included a mushroom risotto (bottom left) and a wonderful boar stew (bottom right). 
We tried a dulce de leche for dessert, and then Nico had to suffer through some drawing lessons. Luckily, I have found a lovely gentleman who placates me in my love for cake and doodling. 

El Meson de Cervantes
Wednesday-Monday 7pm-12am
Calle Alamos II  |  Cale Cacer
+34 952 21 62 74

Other Restaurants you could try:                                                                                      Where we stayed: Hotel Ibis Malaga

La Recova   |       Pje Ntra Sra, de los Dolores de San Juan 5    |      +34 952 21 67 94      |     M-F 9:30am-4pm
great for breakfast and inexpensive (go early, they ran out of bread before we arrived at 11ish)
Bertani Cafe   |     Calle San Juan 40    |    +34 951 00 38 30    |    9am-8:30pm      (great coffee!)
El Tapeo de Cervantes    |     Calle de Cacer 8    |    +34 952 60 94 58   |   1-3:30pm, 7:30-11:30pm    (tiny place, great tapas)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Final Semester as an MFA Candidate at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Daria Souvorova Bacchus Comforting Ariadne
Bacchus Comforting Ariadne. Oil on linen. 64x44in. 2013
Throughout my final semester, I continued to pursue my interest in still life and pattern, which was reawakened through working on Judith and Holofernes. I was trying to address the disconnect between viewer and subject – to allow the figures to be more absorbed in each other and more natural – surrounded by objects that appear to be contemporary. I readdressed my color palette, and began to work with a slightly cooler, more chromatic palette, focusing on swelling fields of color more than the localized color forms. I recognized a disconnect between all of the objects in my narratives and attempted to create a sense of atmosphere that was more attainable in my smaller drawings from life.

At this point, I also became interested in working from life with other figures, and began to make portraits of other people to extend my character vocabulary, and build my interest in other body types. I hope to pursue this side project in conjunction with my invented narratives until I reach a point where the two bodies of work seamlessly correlate into one.

Daria Souvorova the Soprano
The Soprano.  Graphite on Paper. 22x30in. 2013
My last semester and my ASE exhibition are dedicated to pursuing a large, consecutive narrative project. I was interested in the story of Ariadne: her narrative allowed for a piece on abandonment and another on redemption. I wanted to explore how one figure could react differently in varying spaces and situations.

Ariadne, the daughter of Minos and half-sister of the Minotaur, watched as her father subjected fourteen youths to be slaughtered to the Minotaur. She fell in love with Theseus, one of the intended sacrificial victims. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of golden thread  – to guide him in and out of the maze – and a sword – to slay the Minotaur. In exchange Theseus promised to marry Ariadne. 

Daria Souvorova Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus. Oil on linen. 56x52in. 2013
Having slain the Minotaur, Theseus took Ariadne to the island of Naxos, slept with her, and abandoned her in her sleep. Ariadne awoke to find herself deserted and alone and grieved for her foolishness. For the sake of love, she abandoned her country and family, she gave up everything and was left alone to suffer for it.

My first image addresses Ariadne abandoned on the island.  I wanted to describe her reclined on a temporary bed of linens, either just realizing her abandonment or calming down from the first wave of terror at her betrayal. I wanted her to feel trapped – as if she is inhabiting the maze from which she rescued Theseus. Her reclining figure is abutted by a dark wall, shaded by plants, as if a solid gray field is keeping her from extending far into the interior of the image – she is trapped. The serpentine, flowing movements of the fabrics turn into waves, carrying small boats away from the shore – mirroring Theseus in his abandonment by sea. The entire shape of the figure mirrors the small boats that surround it, perhaps signifying Ariadne's correlation to the empty vessels surrounding her.

Daria Souvorova Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus. Graphite on paper. 40x44in. 2012
I wanted to stray from the literal image of a tiny boat leaving on the horizon, and chose a more metaphoric, and symbolic approach to the narrative. I became really interested with still-life objects during the creation of this composition, pulling meaning from the toy boats, ships in bottles, and bottled messages that would never be read. I wanted to address solitude and the inability to communicate, so the idea of sending out messages that may never reach their intended audience resonated well with this narrative. I wanted to have some semblance of the past presence of Theseus, a ghost acting as a character who no longer occupies the space. An old glove, holding the golden thread, represents the hand that once inhabited it and reminds us that the occupant of the glove was once present, but has since departed.

Daria Souvorova Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus. Pastel on paper. 20x30in. 2013
In the painting of Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus, I wanted to focus on creating a new color scheme. I was reaching out and attempting to forge connections with the contemporary art world through any venue available to me. I tried to stray away from local color. I began with a pastel color study, focusing on blending of series of colors to create color harmonies within shapes as well as between them, in an attempt to work less locally.

I changed my entire color palette, noting the pigments in each pastel I used, and then purchasing a new set of oil colors. I put away all of my cadmiums and began my work. I began using a stand oil – based medium, working out the entire composition in underlaying colors and reworking the final color composition on top of the contrasting hues. This allowed me to create more variation in the fabric and skin tones, to stray away from modeling with one or two colors in order to build volume. 

Daria Souvorova Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus. Detail
As the painting reached relative completion, I began to question the pose of the figure. I repainted each feature, hoping to give it more character, to take away some of the classical Idealism that was inherent in the pose, and create a more personal Re-Idealized form. I appreciated some of the figure's languid qualities, but wanted to bring it away from a posing model to a more reactionary figure.

I also questioned the relative lack of use of the upper quadrant of my painting. I decided to introduce another version of the golden thread. Ariadne was known as the weaver – some say that she is Arachne and the spider originates from her name. I wanted to symbolize the idea of Ariadne giving up her power to Theseus. She gave him her golden thread, and as he, the new spider, spun her web and left on the boat, Ariadne, represented by a bird, is left trapped in the golden spider web that she once controlled.

Daria Souvorova Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus
Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus. Detail
I wanted to create a distinction between the two compositions – Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus and Bacchus Comforting Ariadne – and I decided that more emphasis needed to be placed on the arrangement of figures on the page. The painting was almost completed, yet I added a second panel to the bottom to extend the space, and remove the figure from its role as a centralized focal point. This change will make the figure feel trapped towards the top of her composition, allowing for a differing feeling and atmosphere from the second composition.

The ambiguity of the Ariadne drawing was a very positive turn in my work, but I noted that there was still a stage-like presence to the composition. I wanted to change this with the second half of the consecutive narrative.

Daria Souvorova Bacchus Comforting Ariadne
Bacchus Comforting Ariadne. Graphite on paper. 44x30in. 2013

Ariadne is not left to grieve her solitude for too long, as Bacchus, the god of wine, sees her and is amazed by her beauty and stoic nature. He comforts the weeping Ariadne and later marries her.

Daria Souvorova Bacchus Comforting Ariadne
Bacchus Comforting Ariadne. Oil on linen. 18x12in. 2013
I wanted to address the viewpoint in this second narrative – Bacchus Comforting Ariadne. I wanted to force an interaction between the viewer and the two characters, possibly making 
the viewer take on the role of Ariadne, empathizing with her in that moment. I chose to keep the same setting as the first composition but flipped the viewpoint and orientation. We are no longer seeing Ariadne as if we are watching her on a stage in a theatre, rather, we are floating over the couple, and gravity forces us to interact with them.

The symbols that were so vital to Ariadne in the first composition are scattered and folded into a discarded bit of fabric on the lower right. Bacchus is present, and the symbols that represented Theseus are no longer vital to the narrative. I wanted to focus on the gestures and absorptive qualities of the figures – I wanted them to be individuals, yet to feel like they are part of each other. A dark pelt sets off the light of Ariadne's skin yet helps to connect her to the relative darkness of Bacchus's bending form.

I continued to add elements that resonate with the contemporary audience. The arrangement of hair and less classical pose, especially of Bacchus, as well as his boxers and black socks help ground the figures. The fresh stripes of the mattress deflect from some of the classical features in Ariadne's reclining form.

Daria Souvorova Bacchus Comforting Ariadne
Bacchus Comforting Ariadne. Detail
In conjunction with the changes in the final composition Ariadne Abandoned by Theseus, I wanted to give this composition more of an airy feeling. I wanted to portray the presence of space and life beyond the maze-like wall. I was really attached to the tension of Ariadne's foot against the bottom of the canvas, so I chose to add extra space to the left and top segments of the canvas. Seeing the two final compositions set up next to each other gives them the opportunity to communicate and allows the placement of figure to add to the narrative.


In my journey through this collection of narratives, I have come closer to grasping the origin of my imperative to create these complex and frequently tiresome compositions. I am searching for an understanding and empathy for my characters and continue to explore different venues of attaining just that.

I recognize my love for the human form and for creating narrative compositions and continue to seek parallels between my work and the world in which I reside. I fail to give a final justification for my
endeavors – for – I do not know, but I have decided.