Artist's Insight: Amor Fati
Along with the ushering in of the New Year, I am planning to bring much more new content to my blog, shop, and social media this year. That begins here, with an insight into one of my favorite pieces I created in 2019: Amor Fati. I want to start what I’m hoping will be a series of insights with this piece because it truly is layered in so much imagery and symbolism.
I originally started this piece long ago in 2017, before I abandoned it for quite some time. My ideas weren’t translating into the piece I’d hoped for, so it joined the pile of unfinished canvases in the back of my closet. At one point, I even considered throwing it away. Then, last year, a good friend of mine encouraged me to give it another chance. Needless to say, I’m certainly glad I did.
This piece was also my first attempt at painting on wood, which is an idea inspired by one of my long-standing favorite artists, Alyssa Dawn Silos (better known to many of her followers as @alythuh). Since then, I have continued to experiment with different mediums on wood.
People often ask me, what’s with painting all the naked ladies? In general, nudity in my pieces is meant to foster a tone of vulnerability. However, it was central to this piece specifically because the three women portrayed in Amor Fati are the Greek Fates. The nudity of these figures was an intentional play towards the idealistic, nymph-like portrayals of women in ancient Greek and Roman art.
Throughout ancient Greek mythology, human destiny is personified as three women, known as the three Fates. These three goddesses determined the span of an individual’s life, allotting each man’s serving of suffering and success. The Fates were named Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos. According to myth, Clotho spun the thread of life and fate, marking the birth of the individual. Lachesis would dispense the thread of life, and Atropos would cut it (thus ending someone’s life).
In Amor Fati, Clotho is represented by the woman on the left side of the piece. She is covered in blue morning glories, a floral symbol of the beginnings she represents. A portion of the canvas behind Clotho is left white to represent Locke’s philosophy of tabula rasa, or the idea that individuals enter the world as a “blank slate”, where they are then shaped by their experiences.
Lachesis, the Fate who dispenses the thread of life, is represented by the green figure in the middle of the piece. The flowers and roots that clothe her body are representative of existence, and the thread of life wraps around her body sprawled across the blue sky. The final figure in the right corner of the piece represents Atropos. In her hand, Atropos holds the broken red thread which she cut. Fittingly so, she emits a gloomy aura, from the darkness of outer space surrounding her to her necklace of skulls.
The title of this piece and the themes that compose it are inspired by the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. It is this philosophy that inspired the narrative I chose to depict in my painting. Amor Fati, which literally translates to “love of fate” in Latin, is what Nietzsche described as his formula for human greatness. Nietzsche claimed that the key to true happiness and success is to embrace every aspect of life, both the good and the bad. To not only be okay with it, but love it and be better for it.
“So that, like oxygen to a fire, obstacles and adversity become fuel for your potential.”
The idea is that when we accept what happens to us, and understand that certain things are outside of our control, we can face it with unfailing optimism and strength. It’s not about saying “I’m okay with this”; it’s about saying, “I feel great about this. Because if it happened, then it was meant to happen. So I’m glad that it did, and I’m going to make the best of it.”
In theory, it seems unnatural to love things that we never wanted to happen in the first place. But what amazing, equally unexpected opportunities might result from this? How might we learn and grow from this experience? What other worse obstacles could we possibly be avoiding by taking this path? This doesn’t mean that the good will always outweigh the bad. It just means you embrace it and don’t wish for anything to be different, because that’s your only option really.
These are the themes and ideas behind the three women and the narrative of my painting, Amor Fati. My piece is meant to inspire its viewers to find the beauty in every aspect of life, and to provide hope in turbulent times. Want to get an Amor Fati print of your own? Click here.
If you enjoyed reading this insight, I am planning to share more in 2020, so scroll down and enter your email to subscribe to make sure you stay up to date on the content I’m putting out! If you have a certain piece you would like to know more about, feel free to let me know via Instagram or Twitter, or leave a comment below.
Amor Fati: The Formula for Human Greatness. Daily Stoic. Retrieved from https://dailystoic.com/amor-fati-love-of-fate/.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, April 26). Fate: Greek and Roman Mythology. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Fate-Greek-and-Roman-mythology.