Nostalgia for Ithaca
Pencil on Vilaseca paper, 2021
46.5cm W x 34cm H
An allegory about Ulysses and the Odyssey. Ulysses appears in the foreground, pointing to the sea, to infinity, and a distant Ithaca. Circe’s elixir, in the cup on the left next to the blackbird, has made him forget his home. Behind him is the blind Polyphemus, or perhaps Ulysses himself, unable to see reality as it is. Telemachus sits on the right in despair, but the dog Argos still recognises his master. James Joyce observes the scene while a rotated Cavafy reminds us not to be too hasty in returning to Ithaca:
‘Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
So you are old by the time you reach the island,
Wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
Not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.’
From ‘Ithaka’ by C. P. Cavafy
(Translated by Edmund Keeley)