Stuart Ward shines a penetrating spotlight on the world of repetitive form in his works.
A lifelong artist, he ran a successful experiential design studio in Canada collaborating with the world’s largest brands who sought out his unique aesthetic. However, with advent of the pandemic and large brands shuttering their operations, he rediscovered, amplified and augmented his own personal artistic voice through the platform of digital art. His immediately identifiable style resonates with artists and collectors worldwide and he continues to create mesmerizing, deeply personal pieces.
Stuart Ward’s Transformation at the gates of eternity expresses a duality between denotative and connotative messages to create a sense of tension.
The image is a visually captivating, deconstruction of Baroque architecture. Re-investigating Baroque style through a NeoBaroque lens, the artist has animated ornamental forms to complement the architectural backdrop. Experimental architectural forms were created in a way that was impossible when Baroque and Rococo flourished. The artist is using an animated form of expression to enhance their original vision.
The central figures are a pair of humans wrapped in a struggle.
On the surface, it is a colourful and visually playful panoply that pleases the eye using iridescence and gloss, but under the sheen is a message that reaches into dark mythology to ask questions about fate, struggle, and responsibility.
The connotative image represents the abduction of the goddess Persephone by Hades at the gateway to the underworld. The central figures are a digital representation of the sculpture ‘Ratto di Proserpina’, masterfully carved by Bernini.. It depicts Hades abducting Persephone, his brute strength overpowering hers as she fights to escape him.
The sculpture can be interpreted as a transformational story for Persephone, who goes on to marry Hades and become the Queen of the Underworld. Despite being dominated and carried away against her will, she is the hero of this story in a monomythic sense. Prior to her abduction, she lived an idyllic life. But after Hades spotted her picking flowers one day, she was pulled from a life without responsibilities, forced to marry and given a position of power. The reluctance to leave a life of ease and meet a destiny of responsibility is a theme frequently explored in coming-of-age ceremonies. That Persephone faced her hero’s journey reluctantly exemplifies the universal transformational experience that brings a person out of innocence and into adulthood.
The majestic scene surrounding the figures is both an architectural deconstruction and abstraction of the gates to the underworld. It is a hypnotic portal to an unknown spirit world that Persephone is bracing herself against. The viewer knows she will ultimately be pulled through, and the artwork attempts to evoke Persephone’s and the viewers’ feelings about this unwelcome and difficult transformation.
Coming back to the point of the connotative and denotative discord, the bombastic visual spectacle and the troubled inner meaning create a sense of tension. From a denotative perspective, the piece is glossy and beautiful to look at, while from a connotative perspective, the artwork shows an intense moment of struggle and transformation of incomparable magnitude.
Learn more about Ward and his piece for the Genesis 8 series by checking out our podcast with him below.