• Canvas
  • Oil
  • Inv. 78P587

Nikias Skapinakis

Égina e a Águia Arrebatadora (Série: As Metamorfoses de Zeus – VIII)

In this large format work, a naked woman and a huge bird of prey stand out against a white background. The bird is an eagle, king of the skies. Shown with its wings open, indicating flight, the bird rests its claws on the thigh of the prone, drowsy woman. Beyond the eroticism tacitly implied by the nudity and the rapacious approach of the bird – beyond, in other words, the artist’s subjective imagination, we are transported by the title of the work to the distant context of a pagan abduction.


The woman is Aegina, the daughter of the river god, Asopus. An improbable and glamorous Aegina, with the dark gleaming skin of a mannequin and a sensual, cinematographic pose that distances her from the ancient model that is her reference, she stretches out, lying back on her arms, her hands supporting her head. Sleepy, her eyes half-closed, she is surprised by the attack of the eagle whose pale pink and yellow claws cling to her thigh. The eagle is Zeus, the king of the gods, incorrigible in his pursuit of conquests, in one of the numerous disguises that enable him to satisfy his desires.


From a certain distance, Aegina and the eagle Zeus appear as one visual unit, a compact and asymmetrical dark oblong mass that runs across the entire length of the diagonal. The unity of the couple is also the result of the harmonious palette of browns and black, tones symbolising the earth, which establish an intense (negative) contrast with the white background. The only spatial references are those suggested by the bodies, in the concise indication of their volume in traces of pink, and their asymmetrical arrangement that cuts across the image plane. Free from any marks other than the presence of the two protagonists, the composition rests on the synthesis of the colour-form and on a synthesis of its inherent symbolism: earth and flesh (brown-black/pink) confront the imponderability of the white space in which the figures appear to levitate, the air, in other words, the celestial and higher realm, home of the supreme god, the seducer. The vertiginous effect is also suggested by Aegina’s entire body, which is seen from above, as if from an aerial perspective. Thus we have the two values (telluric and aerial) that are essential to this episode of mythological adultery: according to Hyginus and Pausanias and other authors of antiquity, Aegina was abducted from her island or from her palace and carried through the air to the island of Delos where sexual relations with the adulterous god took place.


Mediated by a linearity and economy of drawing and by a compositional clarity dear to Nikias Skapinakis, Aegina becomes part of an updating of the myth in line with the synthetic premises of the visual image in the contemporary age. The penultimate piece in a series of nine ‘Metamorphoses of Zeus’ that the painter produced between 1970 and 1979, it was shown for the first time at Galeria 111, in December 1978, together with a study of the same name which is now also held in CAM’s collection.



Ana Filipa Candeias

May 2013


Updated on 23 january 2015

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