Instadeath: Hero and Leander

7:00 AM

Hero and Leander
Curated by Alex McDonald

Peter Paul Rubens, Hero and Leander, 1604

*Curator’s Note: The paintings within this collection were taken by the author to be artwork for the album covers of a fictional metal band called Instadeath. The following is Rolling Stone’s review of their 4th album, Heroes Always Die.
“1/2 Stars out of 4” –Instadeath has yet to produce a song that differs from their self-prescribed norm of satanic overtures and thrash-root sound. You could record the sound of an angry baboon throwing his own feces and pass it off for a new Instadeath record. Heroes Always Die is no exception. After listening to five seconds of the first track, I desired to pour gasoline down my ear cavities and stick a lit match in them. If you buy Heroes Always Die, consider yourself damned, regardless of your religious preference and even if you have none.

Instead of wasting my readers’ time by talking more about how badly Instadeath sucks, I will entertain them with a review of Rubens’ Hero and Leander. This painting, unlike Heroes Always Die, actually possesses artistic merit. Rubens based this piece off the story of Hero and Leander, who were lovers separated by the sea. Leander would swim the sea every night in order to be with Hero. One night, a storm made the waters violent. The waves sucked Leander below where he drowned. Hero witnessed this and became what doctors would now dub “clinically depressed.” Lacking the medication she needed, she drowned herself in the same sea her lover drowned in.

That all being said, I cannot help but wonder who all the other people are in the painting? Maybe Leander founded a swim team to accompany him every night. I imagine the trip would get lonely after a while. But wait, here’s a better question. Why in God’s name is Instadeath using a Peter Paul Rubens painting for their new album cover? The people in this band can’t be that cultured, can they? Oh well, I better put aside my biases for a short while in order to stay on track.

The waves act as an imprisoning force in Hero and Leander. The single large wave to the right prevents all the bodies from drifting off that side of the painting. Then this curve exists at the bottom that flows into the wave I just spoke of. Follow this curve to the left and you see it goes straight up, creating another barrier for the bodies in the middle. Then one large wave behind them imprisons the drowning people within the middle ground of the painting. Instadeath has once again picked a painting where the subject is trapped by his surroundings. I believe they might be going for a “WE’RE IMPRISONING YOUR SOUL… with art” motif.

One last thing I’d like to say about this painting: I do not know if Hero and Leander are actually the subjects of this painting. There may be more to the story I don’t know, but if you look closely you can see angels above the waves and to the right. They appear to be coming to the rescue of the drowning people. Though, they look like the storm might be overpowering them. Then there’s the matter of the extra bodies besides Hero and Leander. So, what is this painting actually about? I doubt Instadeath knows the answer to my question.

Overall, I give Rubens’ Hero and Leander a “2½ stars out of 4.” It would have been three, but the shifty subject matter really gets to me.

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