If asked to imagine a dragon, you would immediately come up with an image of a ferocious big-winged monster, breathing fire intensely enough to burn a whole city. From the phenomenal Harry Potter to the famous heart-wrenching Game of Thrones, dragons continue to represent medieval age legends and evil fantasy epics.
Chances are, however, you might also come up with the role of dragons in Chinese New Year celebrations. This evolving representation of dragons that varies across the border and how it is represented in art needs consideration. Dragons have long been captivating the minds and souls of storytellers, artists, scholars, and writers.
From the fire-breathing red dragon that haunts us and captures our imaginations to the fear-instilling beasts, it often makes us wonder what is so captivating about dragons. Keeping us hooked on civilizations, it might be its powerful nature, the fierce representation, and the symbolism of primitive prehistoric times that dragons continue to enjoy a special place in fantasy art.
What is Fantasy Art?
Art that depicts magic, magical creatures, or supernatural setting is called fantasy art. It might overlap with themes of horror and fiction art, yet, its characteristic elements make it distinct from other forms of art.
Why do Dragons Enjoy An Iconic Image in Fantasy Art?
Dragons are an iconic image in fantasy art, mainly due to their wide range of characteristic elements ranging from powerful royalty to demonic symbolism. To understand the evolving role of dragons and their iconic image in Fantasy Art, it is essential to take a closer look at the historical representation of this mythological creature.
Therefore, looking at the fierce characteristics of Dragons, they enjoy an iconic place in fantasy art. They play the role of evil, which could be well-assessed based on their anatomy. With sharp features and a serpentine body, every part of this creature screams wickedness.
Apart from being villains, Dragons also take up the role of protagonists. Following this, Dragons have often been made a part of Fantasy art to show their ability to hunt and kill. Dragons enjoy a fantastic role of being the villain as well as an ally, and well, whatever characteristic a particular art represents, Dragons truly align with themes of magic, force, and spirituality.
You can better understand the role and importance of Dragons when you analyze their association with Greek mythology. You would rather see the dragon as more of a giant lizard with different examples coming from ancient artwork. History talks about Apollo slaying the Python and Hercules slaughtering a dragon. All these giant creatures fall under the broad category of dragons, where art portrays them in no standardized format.
Familiarity in the Western Civilization
However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the character of a dragon started gaining familiarity in Western civilization. The identity of the dragon has been symbolized as evil and a demon. This takes us back to Adam and Eve’s and the serpent’s times. Also, the symbolic dragon as a Satan has been seen to deviate from the Christian saints. You can see this in the historical dragon painting ‘St. George and the Dragon’, by Bernt Notke.
The creature, however, was used by the knights on their shields to show its characteristic of instilling fear in enemies. As a result, history has always shown the evil dragon being beaten and slayed by heroes of folklore.
From the satanic representation to a fire-breathing image (as represented in the painting ‘Flight of the Paladin’ by William O’Connor), the representation of the Dragon has widely evolved with time. Gradually it became more of an image of entertainment that replaced his symbolism with spiritual belief. This illustration took form after the rise of the Age of Reason, where protestant artists were not allowed to showcase scenes from the bible. Consequently, the Dragons took a rather decorative form, and this was the first time you could see that Dragons became an iconic representation in Fantasy Art.
The mid-19th century dominated by neo-isms, continued to see and incorporate dragons as decorative art.
As the world entered the Industrial age, paintings began to encompass realism in art with little concentration on superstition and the dark side of mythology. This was when the form in which the artist portrayed the dragons was seen to represent his inner psyche.
It was, however, during the 1970s that art was ready to incorporate mythology, spirituality, and dragons. The world hungry for fantasy then became satisfied as the era of the late 1900s was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. This was when the Dragons again marked their entrance, mesmerizing the audience in all forms. From Harry Potter to Skyrim, the magical, mythical creature got the attention of its audience.
Historic cultural exchange has also impacted the evolving role of Dragons. Similar to the Chinese ideology, Dragons in Persian art is a snake-like creature that enjoys a special place in combining the role of nature and its association with myth. Dragons were, thus, represented in art as a means to inspire in terms of fantasy but, most importantly, dominating reality as if it was out of the reach of the audience.
Fantasy art dives deeper into your imagination, taking you into the world of magic and evil. It activates that power, letting you connect to medieval times, sneaking a look at mythology and aligning it with the contemporary age. Dragons are an iconic image in fantasy art because of their varying role of a demon and Satan.
While, on the one hand, it would be used to instill fear, it also continues to demonstrate royalty, where its role evolves with time. Despite several interpretations, one can seek out its representation, and its power to spark our imagination continues to impact our lives.