‘God Complex’, 2020, Oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas with cast plaster painted cans. 158cm x 91cm x 30cm
During the Covid 19 pandemic Massey was awarded Arts Council England funding to further her research into Greek Mythology and therein the beginnings of misogyny. ‘God Complex’ plays on the titles adage and in so doing seeks to question the role of Donald Trump during this global crisis (and in general). A child like upturned scrawl of ‘nasty’ (shouted at Weijia Jiang, 3rd April during Covid 19 press briefing) adorns the back of the canvas whilst anatomically small hand (of a Satyr which are renowned for sexual promiscuity) and orange hue are visible on the face. These inflated feelings of personal ability that Trump personifies are further grounded in our recent history via our ‘new normal’ Covid 19 vernacular. A Marvel mask now reminds us of PPE masks, droplets below it also seems like spittle and in this context the medical diagram of a mouth being covered by an arm pit pushes us further towards a narrative surrounding how to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the R value.
‘God Complex’ moreover references the King of the Ancient Gods-Zeus-from its gestural lightning bolt background to the soft glow omitting from the leaning edge. Zeus was and is to this date revered and yet on further inspection the stories he intersects are more than troubling and epitomised in the seven women he raped: Alcmene and Peresephone (disguised as her husband/father) here symbolised via the Spider man mask which as a costume is also synonymous with ‘Fathers for Justice’ campaign; Calisto (as she slept) and noted in ‘ZZZ’ pattern running throughout the white impasto; Metis (swallowed her) as the clinical drawing of throat touches on; Antiope (as a Satyr) seen in the orange horns and hand of Phil [Hercules, Disney 1997]; Europa (as a bull) produced here in the readymade plaster Red Bull cans that act as feet and litter aside the canvas; Leda (a swan) noted bottom left and Danae (golden shower) droplets falling into the hand.
“For know that no one is free except Zeus” [Æschylus, ‘The Persians’. 472BC]
*and quite a few white cis straight privileged men.