Opallios: Éloïse Jenninger

If you follow us on social media, you’ll have seen that we are starting to showcase artwork alongside our articles and resources. We’ve even got a shiny new ‘Visual‘ area of the website, which will be populated in the weeks to come.

To kick us off, we are DELIGHTED to share Opallios with you, an animation made by Éloïse Jenninger specifically for MEDUSA. Check it out below.

The Art

Opallios, Éloïse Jenninger (2020)

We love this artwork and were humbled when Éloïse asked us to share our thoughts. Below you’ll find her interpretation and our own. The three very different responses are proof that art is the gift that keeps on giving. 

The Artist’s Interpretation

Éloïse was initially inspired by classical sculpture, drawing on the Greek roots of our name. She describes the work as ‘about genders, queerness, our personal tastes versus who we are forced to be by societal pressures, based on nothing but our sex assigned at birth’. In our discussion, she notes the colours that grow from inside the body, representing an inner self that ‘always comes crawling back, although we evolve’. In contrast, the splashes of paint external to the figure represent what others want us to be, yet they ‘always wash off’. 

The choice of the name ‘Opallios’ is particularly poignant, meaning ‘to see a change in colour’ in Ancient Greek. It’s where Opal, the iridescent gemstone, gets its name. ‘Opallios’ beautifully represents the intersection of ideas at the heart of the piece. As Éloïse explains, the name creates a contrast between the stillness of classical Greek sculpture and the fluidity of identity. What a beautiful way to capture juxtaposition.

Eden’s Interpretation

For me, Opallios is about movement. The stop motion-style of the animation brings to mind the juddering, but unrelenting, process of self-growth, as we shed past versions of ourselves day by day. Just like the splashes of colour that drench the figure, we cannot control what life throws at us. Often when it rains, it pours. Yet, the impermanence of the colours and continuous movement of the figure remind us we do have agency over how we navigate life’s challenges. Opallios reflects that, as we grow, we draw strength from each adversity, building ourselves a kaleidoscope of colour, rather than being consumed by just one.

Emily’s Interpretation

Although I’m honoured to offer up an interpretation of Opallios, I’d say that, ironically, what it ultimately evokes for me is a sense of defiance of any simple categorisation or labelling; it’s an embodiment of resilience and strength

What first struck me about the piece is its juxtaposition of polarities. The elegant figure calls to mind old-school classical sculpture, but also feels incredibly contemporary thanks to the intentionally imperfect hand-drawn effect of the animated outline. The body, with its undulations and curves, recalls certain expectations of femininity, but is nevertheless quite androgynous in its 2D, limbless and headless state. Beginning monochrome but rapidly becoming resplendent with vibrant colour, the shape is familiar yet anonymous and unidentifiable. Crucially, all of these contrasts are intensified by the ephemerality of each phase that the figure glides through; the patchwork rainbow epitomising the impossibility of restricting the form to any one simple characteristic or definition. 

Whilst we might focus on the symbolism of the splashes of colour that impact the figure, it’s captivating to notice the colourful imprints and traces that the figure leaves behind as it progresses – like ripples in water. Maybe too often we concentrate on feeling held back by the weight of external projections, sadly overlooking our capacity to brighten up the little bit of the world around us.

Thank you to Éloïse for creating such a thoughtful piece – make sure you follow her work. If you want to showcase your work on MEDUSA, or have us interpret it, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

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