The ancients knew that we as humans are in a constant battle against our barbarian and civilized natures, against the animal and the human in us. They painted allegories on the walls of churches, and left sculptures in the streets and on buildings for people to consider every day…not just for a few hours in a museum. Myth and allegory give us a way to visualize our struggles as a community, a culture and as individuals.
The modern world, in some ways, seems to have become a myth illiterate culture. We create allegory in the movies and television shows that we watch, but our cultural myths are a bit anemic: in a world where we have the struggle of the Kardashians instead of the battle of the Centaurs against their cousins the Lapiths, our stories are less than ideal tools to help us explore the deeper struggles within ourselves. We’re missing the kind of exposure to allegorical art that each individual deserves to own. The struggles of the ancients are the same struggles we go through today. We are not more civilized then the ancient Greeks or Romans—their stories are our stories, and we still need them.
In this exhibition, Barbre and Protage use contemporary models to tell ancient stories, and surround them with elements that are both old and new, just like the art that they’ve chosen to reference. They’ve taken that art that appears on the side of the road and offered their own take on it, right down to depictions of the local traffic that flows around it. Their paintings and drawings pay homage to the work of ancient times, and reframe that work in today’s world.