Welcome to creative challenges, a part of Stream of Imagination from Perfect English with Danny. Every week, we will have a creative challenge that is not only for you, but for me as well. We will get our inspiration from art, music or anything that is worth taking a moment to contemplate. At the beginning of the next episode, I will start with my effort trying to do something creative based on this week’s challenge and then we will move on to a new challenge. I am a writer and a musical artist, so my approach might be limited to what I know, but it is a whole different story for you. You can use this challenge to create anything you are good at. It might be a cooking a dish, drawing a painting or making a chair; it doesn’t matter but whatever you do, put your heart in it. After all, creative challenges is the name of this show and anything you do with a twist that brings who you are in it is creative indeed. So, let’s get to it.
Today’s creative challenge will be inspired by Botticelli La Primavera, which is a famous painting. Since this is an audio podcast, I have included a link in the description to take you to the painting where you can see it while listening to the podcast, but if you decide you don’t want that and you want to image and recreate the painting only from what I say, your creative sense might have already kicked in.
So, let’s dive in Botticelli La Primavera.
Look at this assembly of beautiful creatures, gods, and idols with Venus in the middle of the picture and the graces dancing blissfully unaware of what’s happening around them. Hermes to the left, the messenger of gods is present as well, and Cupid is flying above his mother shooting one of his arrows of love blindly to ignite this eternal purpose of life—love. It seems like a happy painting, doesn’t it? Yet how about Zephyr to the right depicted in a rather violent scene of raping Chloris, who seems to be shown transformed into Flora as the third person from the right, a goddess happy and content in her marriage life after Zephyr feels ashamed and takes her as his wife. It’s quite a complicated painting which seems to mix love with sex, ignorance, and violence, but it apparently leads to a happy ending. Master Sandro Botticelli might have spent over a year painting and perfecting this painting, but it was definitely worth the effort.
Now let’s think about the ideas we could gather from the painting and think about them in context. The painting is believed to be a wedding gift. Who would have painted a scene of rape as a wedding gift to be hung in the wedding chamber most probably? Yet the image of Flora, happy or rather satisfied with the outcome of her destiny giving in to the domination of the male figure might do the trick. I can now put myself in the bride’s shoes, who was probably still in her late teens, and I will try to digest all of these things mentioned in the image. How could I accept my destiny? Or would it be a revolutionary notion to have at these times (c. 1482) and it would never have crossed the mind of the bride at all? What if she had this idea in mind? How would she struggle against all those around her that destined her to be her husband’s shadow for the rest of her life? I don’t know, there might be a poem, a painting, a piece of music or a dish full strong bittersweet flavors in these ideas, so buckle up and go do something creative about it, or just wait to read the rest and let’s explore a little bit more.
This time I would like to think about the same theme but in a modern setting. How many women live and die in the shadow of men they barely care about, yet all they can do is be as silently compliant as they can be, for these men are the bread and butter of the family although the woman might be the breadwinner more than the man in our times? How much of this image do we still have today in our world? And I am not talking about some unheard-of village somewhere in the Amazon forest, but about big cosmopolitan cities. The big difference, of course, is the reaction of women today. The reaction to a dark enslaving image cannot be taken for granted nowadays and the women of our times do have means to respond. Yet does that mean they are not living in the shadows of men anymore? Maybe, it’s true for some, but I still believe that most women are still there and waiting to be free. What would a woman from our time say about that? Maybe, there is a short story about that or a poem. Who knows? Well, of course, you do, so get to it and write something. Or maybe, you would want to hear the last part before you do that, so come along.
Botticelli’s La Primavera left me with yet another idea, that might be dark and wicked. Here again, I am talking about Chloris who turned into Flora after Zephyr raped her and made her his wife. You look around and see thousands of stories like that, not necessarily involving rape, but about women drawn to men who ill-treat them, and sometimes the more they get hurt, the more they love the man. Freud would have simply explained it by the term masochism and for him, maybe most women are, but I don’t think it is about masochism, but the high level of manly behavior women expect from men, even if that means they might get hurt sometimes. It’s a bit of a contradiction here. What do you think? Personally, I think that I can forgive my lover no matter how many times she hurt me and cry rivers on her account, but not even once if she does it on purpose. Would a woman do that? And if so, have women never changed as men have not? All these are questions to open discussions and ideas finding their ways to your blank paper, canvas or at least vibrant mind. I am not taking sides here, but the best conclusions we come up with are usually the ones we think of as off-limit ideas.
So, what do you do now?
I don’t care. You can write a poem, a short story, compose a song, draw a painting, cook, make something or at least think as long as you put your heart in whatever you do. You can create something about women in the time of the Renaissance and the way they were treated; your point of view can be a man’s or a woman’s, whatever sounds more interesting to you. You can also create something about the same notion but from a modern perspective and see if the ideas triggered by Botticelli’s painting relate to our times in any way. If you like, you can dig deeper into the psyche of women and see if they do seek that image of the romantic macho man on purpose and where that might lead them. And maybe that brings me to a final question, can there be a real romantic macho man? I hope you have come up with some ideas to do something creative whether the ideas came from what we just talked about or you might have your own vision and you might have seen things in this painting that no one else can see. Don’t be afraid to use your own eyes to see things your own way, but the most important thing is that you do something about it and please do share what you create as I will.
You can share what you create by commenting on this podcast on my Facebook page or on my website. Go ahead now and unleash some creativity in your lives. Anybody is creative. Anybody can do something great at any stage of their lives. The world is not what they tell you it is ; it is what you say it is. Do whatever you feel like doing and don’t forget to come back next week for a new creative challenge and I will share what I will have created with you as I hope you do the same.