Bacchanalia Dionysian Aspects as symbols of Otherness in the Artwork of the Painter Asad Azi


  • Nava Sevilla Sadeh Tel Aviv University



Bacchanalia, Otherness, Hybridity in Greek Art, Ancient Greek Concepts, Post-Colonialism.


The artwork of Asad Azi, an Israeli-Druze artist, is deeply inspired by Classical images and subjects. As a socio-political artist, by using the classics Azi conveys subversive and critical messages.In a series of works exhibited recently in an exhibition titled – Bacchanalia, hybrid creatures, Dionysian in character, fill Azi’s canvases. Hybrids such as centaurs and satyrs symbolized in Antiquity the opposition to the principles of moderation (aidos), self-knowledge (sophrosyne), and self-control (enkrateia) to which the Greek citizen was obliged, and were thus connected with Otherness. Metaphorically, hybridity in Azi’s work symbolizes socio-political Otherness and its implications in connection with post-colonial theories. An additional and very prominent aspect of the hybrid in Antiquity was their role as intermediaries between the human and the divine, as noted by Friedrich Nietzsche in his reference to the Dionysian mystic initiation. This aspect sheds another light on the hybrid images depicted by Azi, and the meaning of the Other and the minority in modern times. The present study is interdisciplinary in nature and belongs to the field of reception studies, and aims at examining the Classical influence upon contemporary culture.     

Author Biography

Nava Sevilla Sadeh, Tel Aviv University

Teaching fellow and art researcher at Tel-Aviv University.Title of PhD dissertation (2005): "Mythological Scenes in Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaics in Eretz Israel – Context and Meaning".Research interests: Reception studies – the Classical presence and influence in contemporary culture; analysis of Greek and Roman art through a philosophical orientation; mythological mosaics from a neo-Platonic perspective; gender and art.Topics of publication: Classical influence upon contemporary Israeli art; an analysis of the mosaics from Sepphoris, Shechem and Scytopolis; Interpretations of Greek and Roman sculpture.Courses taught: Style and visual analysis of art; Classical concepts, gender and interpretation of mythology in Ancient art; Roman mosaic art and wall painting.Tel Aviv University, Department of Art History, Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts, Mexico Building, Rooms 111 and 112, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel, Phone: 972-3-6408482, 972-3-6409481, Fax: 972-3-6407781. 


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