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102 x 81 (L x W)

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Barak for the Skies is a personal interpretation of the moment when, after emerging from hell, Dante and Virgil look towards the skies and are struck by the heavenly brilliance of the stars. Sveva imagines the sky marked with the constellations Canis Major, the Pleiades, Sagittarius, Scorpio, and Cygnus, and considers the figures that they represent: Dog, Nymph Sisters, Centaur, Scorpion, and Swan, as dancing amongst themselves.

Central in the sky is the peacock-tailed figure of Barak, or Burāq. Burāq is the part-human part-steed creature of Islamic legend that carried the prophet Muhammad to Heaven. In her writing, Sveva relates Burāq to Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, and in doing so, suggests a similarity within the myths of these two distinct cultures while highlighting the joint ability of these legends to inspire the human imagination.

Drawing ideas as always from her father’s deep interest in Islamic culture, Sveva here blends the mythologies of distantly related peoples, forming reconnections to shared histories and suggesting a universality in human belief.