This exhibition explores the idea of the beautiful body; a topic that inspired Greek sculpture, paintings and carvings. For them the body beautiful was not only an object of 'sensory delight' it was also an 'expression of the intelligent mind'. The artworks inspired were in some way an exploration of the human condition, as well as the human form.
Each of these media makes space to discuss different themes, as well as the Ancient Greek relationship with other powers of the times.
Ideal male beauty is a central theme within the exhibition. This is a matter of sexuality, and love, of course, but in a warring nation like Ancient Greece it is also a question of athleticism and skill. Unlike in modern day society, and man's genitals were no reflection on his manliness. In fact, the Greeks seem to rejoice in being 'nude', and natural, without being 'naked', and thus ashamed or vulnerable.
Of course, many men in the armies actually had relationships with comrades. In fact, one fascinating piece in the exhibit explained that two men being buried together was common enough that only the presence of a beard would signify whether the two men were lovers or simply died together in battle.
I found the links between athletics and war particularly fascinating in the exhibit, but many other areas were explored. Deaths, births and relationships are given space, as well as the play of children.
The exhibition wasn't all male. While most of the pieces centred around male beauty, and male strength there was some discussion of the female as well. Aphrodite the Greek goddess of Love and Beauty was a common muse. One of the pieces on display was a copy of a 4th century marble sculpture that has inspired many more images in its honour. Praxiteles' original work was of a surprised Aphrodite caught nude, with the viewer as the voyeur.
As you can see from the many themes I have discussed, the exhibition is a large one. It covers 5 rooms in the Bendigo Art Gallery. Tickets cost $22 for adults, and I highly recommend putting aside at least two hours for your visit. More if you want to visit the permanent collection as well.