Monday, December 22, 2008

Flight into Egypt

Here is installment number 2 of 'Art I made for Maria'. In this sketch, Maria was the (unwitting) model for a version of the 'Flight into Egypt'. Well, I used her face and head, which is an age old tradition anyway. I apologize for the poor quality of the image, but I had to take a picture of it since I don't have a scanner big enough to import it in one pass.

Ordinarily, I'm not very fond of over-explaining my drawings and paintings, because they ought to stand alone, but I've promised a couple friends to describe my process of going about doing a piece, so here we go:

Generally, I'm more of a fan of an active fleeing when it comes to versions of the Flight into Egypt, in contrast to the more familiar 'Rest on the Flight into Egypt' such as that by GERARD DAVID (which I nevertheless have a version of hanging in my living room, because it's so symbolically rich and quite beautiful).

Nevertheless, I prefer the active versions of the flight because they portray the urgency with which the Holy Family had to act- both urgency and motion being a sign of the human realm, rather than the leisurely calm found in the 'rest' versions-lack of motion itself being a symbol of the divine. (Middle term: I prefer to think of the Holy Family in terms of their very regular, human life. Just a personal preference.)

However, in this version, I tried to impart the idea of both Human and Divine characteristics using these aformentioned action symbols of Mary and the Christ-child. Clearly Mary is on the move, her robes and hair being caught in the draft of her kinetic rush from left to right (read left=sinister, right=virtue, so that she moves away from sin: sin being an opponent that will forever try to ensnare her but will never catch this immaculate one) -you can almost sense that Herod's men are upon her as she hurries away.

Yet, her face is serene, full of the confident certainty that can only come with the knowledge that God would care for his Son, who is Himself so calm so as to suck his thumb in peace; for no ill will come of the situation. Moreover, His grace is full within her, and will keep her safe from the opponent sin which chases after her.

There is a baroque tension here between those two simultaneous actions: resting and moving. And as I am wont to say in the practice of architecture: if it's not Baroque, fix it.

My version is based very loosely on, and intended as an homage to, John Singleton Copley's work "THE DEATH OF MAJOR PEIRSON". The woman on the bottom right of the painting, as you can doubtless tell, was the figural model for my sketch in composition and massing, and interestingly enough, it was Copley's own wife and children who were the models for his own work.

I can't leave without drawing attention to the proportional tickmarks...left there just to prove to those few of you who doubt it, that my wife has absolutely perfect proportions.

1 comment:

Maria said...

Thank you for my birthday gift! It was quite a nice surprise to find that morning! It's a little weird to see oneself in a piece of artwork, but I love it!