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Paul Atroshenko's Oedipus Tyrannus

Decent Essays
Paul Atroshenko painted a modern scene depicting a blind man, Oedipus, walking on a pier with a long cane and wearing sandals and sunglasses. The beautiful landscape, unseen by the blind Oedipus, includes a vast river with a city in the background, as well as two boats, one of which has several Egyptian Aramaic characters written on the side. The blind man is accompanied by a dwarf man wearing a suit and bowler hat, as well as “The Hound of Hades,” Cerberus. Oedipus is holding a harness attached three-headed guardian of Hades, who appears to be working as Oedipus’ guide animal. A barefoot woman dressed in blue, representing Oedipus’ mother and wife, Jocasta, shys away in the corner of the painting. Jocasta seems to be leaving the scene in shame…show more content…
The first obvious comparison to be made is that of Oedipus himself. The painting depicts Oedipus as a middle aged man, dressed fairly well for the time period of the painting. This contrasts Oedipus Tyrannus, in which Oedipus is exiled from the town. A major point of interest in Atroshenko’s depiction is the three-headed beast that is apparently leading the blind Oedipus through the scene. Cerberus is traditionally described as a guardian of the gates of Hades, whose job is to prevent people in the underworld from escaping. The beast’s could either be leading Oedipus into Hades to punish him for what he has done, or serve as a reminder of his shame. Jocasta, Oedipus’ mother and later wife, is clothed from head to toe and is leaving the scene. In Oedipus Tyrannus, Jocasta kills herself upon realizing that her husband was really her son whose prophecy had come true. If the painting follows the storyline of Sophocles’ play, Jocasta could be leaving the scene on the pier to put an end to her shame and misery after seeing her son. The dwarf that accompanies Oedipus and Cerberus is meant to refer to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a French artist who was an interest of Atroshenko. Toulouse-Lautrec often visited brothels and painted the women there, which explains the presence of the prostitutes in the painting. Toulouse-Lautrec is connected with Oedipus because it is…show more content…
Oedipus Rex contains several references to incest and the consequences of it. Oedipus’ accidental incestous acts with his mother caused him to blind himself and be constrained to a world that he can no longer see and enjoy, as well as causing his mother great shame, and even her life. The deformity of Oedipus’ companion, Toulouse-Lautrec, is another consequence of the incestous habits of characters like Oedipus and Jocasta. Atroshenko seems to have been trying to warn people of the dangers of incest and sexual promiscuity by highlighting the circumstances that it has left many to deal with and endure. Atroshenko’s painting adds new depth and perspectives on Oedipus Tyrannus and highlights the crucial points of Sophocles ancient
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