The "twin masks of comedy and tragedy" are used to represent the creative arts, particularly theater. Shakespeare was the master in handling both masks. These concepts were born in ancient Greece more than 2,500 years ago. Their endurance across the centuries reflects the power of drama and the twin themes of joy and despair which bracket the human condition.
Though they can appear separately and indeed evolved as representations of different dramatic art forms, their appearance together holds far more symbolic importance.
(Comic mask with tragic mask in background, Roman, 2nd century CE London, British Museum. )
On that theme, I did two years ago this portrait of 'Funmi Adewole, an artist, a dancer, a poet and friend of mine. The idea was to convey 'Funmi's different facets or her personality, sometimes sad, sometimes happy. The two facets are in a sort of "emotional perspective". I submitted it then to the annual National Portrait Gallery (NPG ) "BP award". It was not even short-listed by the jury.
Should I cry or should I laugh? ;-)
This is a portrait of myself and my daughter. I believe that both expressions, apparently "opposite" (sad and happy) in fact complement each other, just like so-called "opposite colours" (eg red and green. blue and orange, yellow and purple...) complement each other.
Should we cry or should we laugh? ;-)
On that same old theme: Democritus (c. 460 - c. 370 B.C.) and Heraclitus (c. 540 - c. 475 B.C.) are known as the 'laughing and crying philosophers.' Fresco transferred to canvas (Bramante 1477)
Should they cry or should they laugh? ;-)
This is Leonardo da Vinci s Joconda with her mysterious smile: happiness or sadness?
My answer: it is BOTH happiness AND sadness. ;)