Styx Levan Songulashvili


Jellyfish are odd aren’t they. Some teeny tiny like the Irukandi jellyfish, some glow in the dark and some are just outright mean like the Portuguese man o war. Jellyfish don’t have brains as such, they have nerve nets, which sense environmental changes and coordinate their responses. There is a wealth of things I could tell you about jellyfish.

Songulashvili has combined them with the river Styx to produce a powerful piece of art work. His artwork is spiritual and he is constantly searching and refining techniques to produce his art.

Jellyfish have a strong symbolic meaning of spirituality, defining a quiet confidence and drifting with the will of the universe. If you read about animal totems, it will heavily focus on having the ability to take things as they come where it comes to jellyfish, but I think this image solely comes from the fact that they way jellyfish move is with the ebb and flow of water.

The Styx, goes back to Greek mythology, being the goddess of the river which linked between the earth and the underworld. Zeus awarded the goddess the great stator after she sided with him during the titan war, and all oaths were sworn to Styx.

Styx was said to have miraculous powers and could make anyone invulnerable. Achilles mother was said to have dunked Achilles in to the river Styx, making him completely impervious, except for his heels which she had held him by.

The river Styx being the entrance to Hades was made the fifth circle of hell in Dante’s inferno, where Phlegyas was the ferryman. The wrathful and sullen were punished by being drowned in the muddy waters for eternity, all fighting each other for the chance of escaping. It was believed that placing a coin in the mouth of the dead would pay the ferryman’s toll to get souls across the Styx safely.

In this picture I do feel that the jellyfish are the embodiment of Styx the goddess. Her being split between the light of the white jellyfish and leading souls to their final resting place, and the dark of the black jellyfish condemning the less desirable souls to the circles of hell.

There is a definite flow to this painting and you can all most feel the movement of the water, the tentacles of the jellyfish moving in the current. Light breaks through the watery background giving the feel of depth.

I find this piece beautiful in its simplicity and subject. While black and white, giving the viewer a colourful story of differing meanings.