‘The Contemplation of Sisyphus (with Dashboard Vanitas)’ by Vanessa Powers
Artist: Vanessa Powers
Title: ‘The Contemplation of Sisyphus (with Dashboard Vanitas)’
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 18″ x 24″ x 1.5″
Framing: Unframed – Ready to hang
Year of Creation: 2022
About the Artwork:
“As the title suggests, this painting is a self portrait of me as Sisyphus- a figure from Greek mythology who was condemned to push a boulder up a mountain over and over again, only for it to fall back down for eternity.
Even though this piece was created in deep frustration with what seems often to be the sheer futility and absurdity of life- spherical bridges that lead to nowhere, fires ablaze at either end of the shore- the only way through is the intangible quality within oneself to persevere. I imagine that’s what some describe as the human spirit.
The classic American Hardcore band Bad Brains’ music was steeped in this philosophy of maintaining the human spirit, as shown on the LED display with the song “Attitude.” The chorus repeats “We’ve got that P.M.A., we’ve got that attitude” (acronym for Positive Mental Attitude.)
The skull and tulips along with the other items on the dashboard is a nod to Vanitas paintings, the 17th century Dutch Masters style of still life where symbolic objects such as these were used to allude to the transience of life.
This painting is ultimately how I feel in my life, in this world, at this time. I have a hunch other people may feel the same.” – Vanessa Powers
About the Artist:
Vanessa Powers is a figurative oil painter whose work uses a visceral symbolic language to navigate her inner world and how it relates to our current cultural climate. Her surreal bordering on grotesque paintings explore themes including grief, vice, mortality, and resiliency. Powers uses her paintings to articulate a personal spirituality with an emphasis on the significance of ritual, memory, and the profoundly human impulse of ceremony.
Vanessa received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She exhibits her work both nationally and internationally with her most recent exhibitions at Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco, La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia, and the juried exhibition Surreal Salon 14 at Baton Rouge Gallery in Louisiana.
Previous projects include her art displayed in a vacant storefront walking tour in Manhattan during the height of the pandemic in 2020, her painting “Choice or Fate” printed as a billboard in Brooklyn with the non profit SaveArtSpace in 2019, and the inclusion of her mural in “Anthropocene” a curated mural cycle at First Street Green Art Park in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 2018. Vanessa is currently based in and from New York.