Soulvaki of the Gods

Today we change course and set sail for Ancient Greece! A different theme from my usual South Asian murals, Saki's was an interesting project.


The owner himself was a refugee from the Gulf War in Iraq during the early 90's and settled with is family in Greece, where he stayed up until the Financial Crisis of the late 2000's. Though born Iraqi, his persona and demeanor were more Mediterranean, hence the food and establishment he opened up in Canada.


Interesting back story aside, the art from Saki's was quite unique. It was a modern take on Ancient Greek themes and icons to reinvigorate his shop.


The first wall featured Statues of Athena, Socrates, and Zeus - with borders borrowing their motifs from Ancient Greek Vase Art. The second wall which we will address in another post, features Santorini - one of the heavenly Greek Islands.



A full picture here show you: Athena, Zeus, Socrates, the Parthenon and the stylized borders -

these were commonplace around the 6th century BC



Leading the composition from the left side we have Athena - the Greek Goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft and warfare, often regarded as the patron protectress across several Greek cities. Olive trees, owls, snakes and the Gorgoneion are symbolic of Athena.


In the center is a classic Zeus bust - it goes with out saying that most should know the legend of Zeus as the King of Gods atop Mount Olympus.


If you look closely behind the Zeus Bust in the center, a subtle rendition of the Parthenon can be seen. A former temple dedicated to the Greek God Athena, the Parthenon resides atop the Athenian Acropolis in Greece. Erected during the 5th century BC, its sculptures are considered a high point of Greek art. It was a sign of gratitude for the victory of the Persian invaders during the Greco-Persian wars and simultaneously served as the city's treasury.



The Parthenon in modern times



In the very far right is a statue of Socrates, attributed to be the founder of Western Philosophy and among the first moral philosophers. Little known to david ji, Socrates was a polarizing figure in Athenian society and was eventually sentenced to death for corrupting the youth. He was forced to ingest poison and died in 399 BC.




The Death of Socrates (Jaques-Louis David 1787)



Statue of Socrates at the Academy of Athens, Greece

(this was the reference for the mural)


The inspiration I drew from traditional Greek Vase art was probably the most exciting and interesting part of this project for me. To be able to paint something realistically and with precision is a skill no doubt, but to see how people across time and cultures stylize patterns, people, flora and fauna to come up with unique and timeless designs is mind blowing.



'Black Figure' Technique found on Greek Vase Art starting around 620 BC

served as the inspiration for the lower portions of Saki's murals



Example of Traditional Greek Vase Art with the 'Red Figure' technique.



There's a couple more things hidden in the first mural (Saki's takeout menu - can you find it), but for now I will leave you with this. We'll revisit Saki's in a couple of posts and take a look at Santorini and some more traditional Greek elements that influenced the art.



Until we meet again,



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