Studies: Titian’s Diana and Callisto by Jzin
Titian’s Diana and Calllisto. National Gallery, London, England. Oil on canvas, 187.00 x 204.50 cm.
Callisto was the favourite of Diana, virgin goddess of the hunt. Her beauty aroused the attention of Jupiter, king of the gods, who seduced her by disguising himself as Diana. Nine months later Callisto’s pregnancy was discovered when she was forced by her suspicious companions to strip and bathe after hunting. Titian chose to paint the moment of her humiliating exposure and banishment from Diana’s chaste entourage.
Diana and Callisto by Jzin Teng, unfinished. 1998? Los Angeles, California. Acrylic on canvas. 48 inches x 48 inches.
Costa Mesa, California. June, 2014.
Look what I have found stashed away in my garage! Here is my old, old study of Titian’s Diana and Callisto, painted when I was living in South Pasadena as a graduate student at the University of Southern California. It was painted during an intense period of my life, working daily until midnight in the cancer research laboratory (basic science and patent/technology development), taking classes, preparing for my Ph.D. thesis defense and examination, while living with a boyfriend together for the first time.
I was compelled to study and process this piece by copying, firstly because I love Titian’s work (Though I always suspect this muddy piece replete with many drawing “mistakes” must be done by one of his students – that said, Ido LOVE this intimate piece). This piece was one of his scruffy late works, painted passionately with brush and fingers. Something about its sketchy sloppiness called to me not only copy but to interpret it my own private way. Secondly, I love stories. At the time of painting, I identified with Callisto’s plight. It was my expression of my doubt in choosing a career in science. I was having doubts about living an all exclusive ascetic life of total devotion to research. Like Diana’s Callisto, I was fearful of being discovered that I hovered the longing for art in my daily diet. Due to the intense exclusivity of my chosen path, I did not have time for art, or any other distractions for that matter.
Callisto, you do not have to hide anymore. Titian’s (left) and my version (right), incomplete. Neither painter was familiar first-hand with pregnancy. Callisto’s floppy bulge was unconvincing in both cases.
This was a large painting, there was a hole from improper storage. The drawing of Diva Diana’s face was unsuccessful. I could have used a model here.
Ah! Melodramatic showdown!
A combination of my fear of self-exposure (fear of being known for harboring dichotomous passions in my chosen vocation that demanded total focus and loyalty), self-critical perfectionism, embarassment for savoring a male-chauvinistic voyeuristic erotica thinly disguised as respectable art and other qualms of 20-something has kept this and many other of my worked hidden away in storage for more than a decade. I will post my Acteon and Diana, also painted about the same time, when I find it amidst my other stashed away journals and paintings. – Jzin. June, 2014, on the other bank of the river of time.
Figure/ Life Drawing
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