Christopher Pugliese, Ulysses and the Sirens, 2003

Yesterday we wrote about the story of Ulysses plugging the ears of his crew with wax so that they wouldn’t hear the bewitching song of the Sirens, thereby avoiding a shipwreck on the rocks through the Strait of Messina. Pugliese gives us a 21st C version: here he has painted himself as Ulysses, but Ulysses is a painter. The Sirens are there too, but they take the form of nudes and represent all the things in life that keep him from getting his painting work done. Pugliese writes “There are constantly sirens that distract me from painting so I am always trying to stay focused through the whirlwind of my inner turmoil.” The Sirens here don’t even have an enchanting song; it appears that Pugliese is the one singing the sweet song, which is the act of painting itself. One Siren covers his ears so that he can’t even hear his own melody.

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