Firetti Contemporary has announced a one-of-a-kind multi-sensory solo exhibition by Her Highness Sheikha Maytha Bint Obaid Al Maktoum. Titled Rhythms of the Deep, this unique exhibition is inspired by the Ancient Greek Myth of Aphrodite & Psyche and tells the story of human flaws with an emphasis on destruction bolstered by envy. In collaboration with Connectopia Technologies, Rhythms of the Deep will unveil the first-ever NFTs by the artist. The exhibition will also include augmented reality and take place in the metaverse, which viewers can access through VR headsets. This further elevates the unique experience provided to viewers as it blurs the boundaries between the physical and digital.
According to classical Greek myth, Aphrodite – the Goddess of love and beauty (whose powers fascinated both Gods and mortals), becomes envious of Psyche, a princess of outstanding beauty who begins to receive more recognition and attention than the revered Goddess. Driven by envy, Aphrodite sends her son, Eros (known also as Cupid in Roman), to shoot Psyche with one of his magical golden arrows, to cause her to fall in love with the most hideous monster she lays eyes upon. However, things do not go as planned and Eros falls in love with Psyche and abandons his mission. Angered by the disobedience and driven by envy, Aphrodite unleashes her wrath on Psyche by sending two of her servants, The Wrench, and the Blues, to put her in misery.
The artist represents the absolute truth through the subject, metaphors, and composition of her monumental paintings. Guided by lights and the song from the movie, Three Colours: Blue (directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski), Song For The Unification Of Europe (Julie’s Version), viewers will be immersed in a utopian world where perfection and harmony exist symbolically—a world that could be achieved if humans were to strive for peace and compassion. The Symbolism encountered in these powerful works represents a synthesis of form and feeling. The artist envisioned the holistic design of the exhibition and its multi-sensory architecture while creating the artworks. She imagined viewing this collection as an immersive experience.
Rhythms of the Deep begins with the Epiphany series, where viewers will be guided through large-scale paintings that re-imagine the path of Aphrodite travelling through the depths of the ocean to bring us love and beauty. These underwater paintings are rendered with an abundance of energetic brush strokes in a vibrant colour palette, creating the impression of movement and welcoming the dancing sunlight from above. The works are brought to life in a way in which the vast waves of synergistic energy, pulsing through the water, can almost be felt as they turn the reef’s rhythms into a universal song.
Viewers will encounter reality through the artist’s inner subjectivity, as she imbues her paintings with spiritual value, conveying an imaginary dream world populated with figures from Greek mythology. Her works reflect themes often found in Symbolist art: love, fear, anguish, and envy, where the role and power of a woman are often the main symbols for the expression of these universal emotions.
Her masterpiece Envy is the last work to be unveiled on this journey, allowing viewers to encounter Aphrodite on a quest for revenge over Psyche, Goddess of the soul. Through Envy, a never seen Aphrodite is depicted underwater, rather than rising from the ocean. This work portrays how envy is a spiritual disease that is the root of numerous sins. It is incompatible with true faith and has the capacity to nullify a person’s good deeds.
Upon encountering Envy, the lyrics of the song say “so remain, Faith, Hope, and Love, these three. But the greatest of these is Love”, it is to say that even a Goddess with so much love and power is not immune to mortal weaknesses. Envy and rage have blind-sighted Aphrodite from fulfilling her duties of spreading love and beauty to the world. The journey introduced by this exhibition allows viewers to reach an ‘epiphany’ on their morals and how becoming bitter or envious distracts them from the bigger picture of life and creates chaos for themselves and others.
“It is truly the beauty of the soul that lasts forever, not physical or material beauty.”
– Her Highness Sheikha Maytha Bint Obaid Al Maktoum