Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Zen Jesus

I hesitated before deciding to show this picture on the By-Product. Some of my readers are intensely anti-Christian, and I don't want to assert my Christian faith in their presence. But this is an interesting piece of art, if only for the cultural/spiritual mashup of its concept.

It's an icon of Christ, also known as "Video Icon," designed after the traditional Orthodox icon of Christos Pantocrator, but with abstract elements and non-orthodox colors. Christ is in a black robe reminiscent of a kimono. The background is a cloudy texture of grey and blue, with a simple silver halo. The Book held open by Christ reveals a cloudless, brilliant blue sky with stars, rather than the traditional pages with a passage from the Bible. This is the book as gateway to another Universe. 

I also used a different model for the face of Christ. I was trying to portray Jesus as a Cool Guy rather than the saccharine white boy of Protestantism or the scary elongated  Mediterranean mystic of Eastern Orthodoxy. When I became Christian I chose Roman Catholicism but for a long while was attracted to Eastern Orthodoxy, and in the mid-90s I worshipped at an Eastern Rite Catholic church. But when I brought this picture to the Eastern priests they refused to bless it because it did not follow the very strict standards used in Orthodox iconography.

My spiritual life is quite different now, with influences from western esotericism and Zoroastrianism, and I haven't painted any images of Jesus Christ for a long time. That does not mean that I won't paint them, but I will do it differently.

"Christ Lord of the Universes" is acrylic on illustration board, 8" x 10", June 1984.

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