The work of Oscar Fouz Lopez is informed by mythological stories and their synthesis of history, metaphors and philosophical teachings. According to Carl Jung, myths are embedded in the human psyche in the form of archetypes. Lopez’s paintings focus on the Hero archetype who endures personal challenges, serving as a metaphor for self improvement.
The starting point for the work is the Indian myth, the Bhagavad Gita, which was told in a 700-verse Sanskrit scripture. The myth tells the story of a hero, Arjuna, who had to fight his own family for a stolen kingdom. He struggles intensely with both obligations: being faithful to the crown and to the love for his family. The central idea of the myth – the hero riding a chariot, accompanied by his charioteer – has many metaphorical references, the main one being self-knowledge. The chariot stands for the body, the horses for the senses, the reins are the mind, and the charioteer is the intellect that has to guide the warrior to make the best of this compromising situation that does not lead to a good outcome either way.
Lopez was touched by the story of Arjuna, because he feels that in these troubled times, doing our best can be a struggle. Lopez’s heroes function as a metaphor for the ordinary person who lives an ordinary life, but like the hero, still has to make difficult decisions. In a way we can all see ourselves reflected in Arjuna’s war, fighting to live with integrity. Lopez’s intention is to depict the struggle in a friendly and humorous way, collaging parts of this myth with photographs and drawings to make interesting compositions and visually compelling images.
In the edition of the Bhagavad Gita that Lopez drew on, the translator, Eknath Easwaran, begins with the anecdote of a train journey he once took in India. By chance, one of the stops was where Arjuna’s great battle took place, the plains of Kurukshetra. Many people disembarked the train and wandered in admiration, recalling the myth. This passage gave Lopez the idea of bringing the myth’s narrative into the present day by combining the ancient and the contemporary. The characters in his paintings are also traveling and sometimes walking on the same plains as Arjuna did, heading towards an uncertain destination.
The compositions are infused with uneasiness and anticipation, and at times it seems that something crucial is just about to happen. These awkward and somewhat mysterious scenarios suggest that a journey is taking place. The characters seem to travel periphrastically towards a destination, unsure if they will ever reach it or even if they know where they are going. Lopez’s characters play out the Hero archetype in a world that is a distorted reflection of our own.
Oscar Fouz Lopez is a Spanish-born artist who lives and works in Dublin. His work has featured in group exhibitions such as Winter Open (2016) in Rua Red, Dublin, Insider Art (2016) in MCE, Belfast, and Everything is in Everything, (2019) in the Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh. He was also selected for The Annual Show at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2018, 2018 and 2019. His solo show Pickled Chimp Ears was held at Pallas Projects as part of its 2018 programme. He graduated with a BA in Fine Art from DIT in 2010 and was shortlisted for the Most Promising Graduate Award at the Talbot Gallery the same year. Lopez also holds an MFA in painting from NCAD (2016) and was the Tony O’Malley artist in residence for 2018/19. His work is held in public and private collections, including those of the OPW and Trinity College, Dublin.
Image: Oscar Fouz Lopez, Following the leader, Oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm