Anastasia Russa: painter

A close friend’s pregnancy impressed upon me the subject of childbirth.  In this triptych (Hidden Child, Hidden Mother, Lucky) my concern took on a mythic expression.  What lies beyond observation?   


First, I explored the myth of the ‘hidden child’, from Levi Strauss’s discussion (in his book South American myths on Hidden Child) in which the demiurge gives birth to a child from his knee.  In Greek Mythology Zeus sewed his unborn baby onto his leg and Dionysus (god of wine) was born a few days later, from his thigh.   


This magical way of bearing babies could become a metaphor for the new roles of men and women in modern developed countries.  Men might copy penguins, who hatch the eggs, leaving the females freed to forage.  This relates to feminist approaches, the fight for women’s rights for the same social opportunities as men.   


In contrast to the triptych panel depicting the hiddenness of the child, the subject “Hidden Mother” is based on a curious convention found in some Victorian photography – the Hidden Mother.  Coincidentally, we also see the Virgin Mary as hidden in the Gospels, keeping silence [Luke 2:19 & 51].  Yet she is the mother of the new humanity regenerated in Christ.  The covered face of Virgin can be seen as a demonstration of her disappointment in human nature.   Her face is covered as an expression of shame as an act of solidarity with humanity.     


The main aspect of “Hidden Mother" signifies a woman’s sacrifice to her child.  Haven’t women done this throughout time? 


The “Lucky” one – is the child born in an amniotic sack – the bag of fluid inside the woman’s womb.  It is very rare occurrence and absolutely harmless.  In Russia we call these babies lucky because it is a mythological belief that sacks can protect the person throughout life from all sorts of trouble, ensuring limitless luck.  


As in “Hidden Mother,” the figure of the mother again reflects that of the Virgin Mary (as in the iconography of the Holy Virgin Oranta, Lady of the Sign.  I painted “Lucky” as the celebration of life and rebirth.

© Anastasia Russa 2020