Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jesus the Undead

This is probably one of the worst pictures I have ever painted. I'm only showing it so that you, too, can see this epic religious tackiness and be embarrassed along with me. 

The picture was a commission from an eccentric elderly Presbyterian minister, (now among the peasants in the heavenly fields) enthralled with Christian left-wing doctrine, who was also fascinated with the physical resurrection of Jesus. How had Jesus actually been resurrected? What did it feel like? And could you, like, catch Him in the act? 

This brought me to levels of blasphemy that would have gotten me a visit from the Inquisition back in the middle ages. But in Cambridge, Mass., where I was then living, any sort of thought twists were entertainable. So here is the genesis of tacky religion: a science fiction and fantasy fan encounters the Gospel! You can be resurrected in a fantasy book or a role-playing game, no problem. So how was it for Jesus? Did he just, uh, wake up all by himself in a tomb? The Gospel says he had magic powers after he was resurrected, too, more than he had when he was still among the living. What was His consciousness like as the process of astralization happened? Supposedly the burial shroud (whether it was the Turin shroud or not) kept its shape around a vanished body, so did Jesus turn into a cloud of photons or a neutrino flux, something that could pass through cloth and even stone? And this doesn't even cover His adventures during the 2 1/2 days he was lying in the tomb, when the legends say he visited Hell and saved the souls of Biblical figures from eternal punishment. When He appeared on Resurrection Sunday, that is, Easter, in the garden where Mary Magdalene couldn't identify him, was he wearing astral gardener clothes?

I posed one of my pale, spindly male friends as Jesus. I wrapped this poor soul in a wet sheet, in the chill of a November evening. It was a miserable session and he was lucky not to catch his death (or resurrection) of cold. Then I painted Jesus as the Playgirl model of religious exaltation, complete with hints of chest hair and omigod pubic hair....Jesus with body hair...with the sheet strategically over His sacred business. He's awakening to a freezing spring dawn of God's light, shining through the stigmata like a liberated proton beam. I used my Airbrush of Holiness to crank up the divinity. And then I released this abomination to my minister friend for thirty pieces of, it was 250 dollars as my record shows. 

The minister loved it. In fact, he loved it so much he showed it to his friends. One of them, an Air Force chaplain, wrote back to me to tell me how inspiring it was for him. When I read that, all I could think of was, there is no bottom to people's taste. None at all. And I served it up. Lord have mercy.

"Christ, the New Adam" (official title of the picture) is acrylic on illustration board, 14" x 11",  April 1987.


Unknown said...

Wow. Just, wow.

Tristan Alexander said...

Christian LEFT wing?? And honestly, this is not as bad as you think. When I first saw it I did not realize it was Jesus and once I did, I still found it much nicer than MOST religious art I have seen!