I'm giving up agnosticism for Lent.
Last month I was intrigued by the challenge of imposing my style on a religious-themed painting when I heard about this call to entry (*note* deadline March 12). I ruminated for awhile (stopping short of actually chewing my cud) and then did a little research on each of the 15 stations of the cross, which is the theme of this exhibition. (Meantime, I was also fretting over the ethics of a non-Christian tackling a Christian theme, but got over it with the help of a friend.) I was not satisfied with the illustrative approach I was using so decided to try a more general 'symbolism through motifs' (same old-same old) that I'm better at. This is what I came up with.
The canvas is divided - loosely - into a cross with - loosely - four quadrants:
Upper right: The dove is the most important symbol in the painting, surrounded by the light of the holy spirit, because it represents the release of the soul in death. I chose to include the olive branch as it also alludes to Noah's harbinger of hope.
Upper left: The pear represents the Incarnate Christ in allusion to his love for mankind. (I lifted that phrase; can you tell?)
Lower right: Since the fish is one of the most important Christian symbols and one of my favourite motifs, I painted 15 little swimmies to represent each of the 15 stations of the cross. The ghostly white fish skeletons represent the Holy Trinity ... or maybe the three steps of the hill at Calvary.
Lower left: There are five loaves of bread (the body of Christ) to signify each of the five wounds. The water in the background is to represent cleansing and purity.
In addition, there are seven crosses along the left-hand arm of the cross, representing each of the seven sacraments, and twelve goblets of wine (the blood of Christ) along the right-hand arm of the cross, representing the apostles.
It was an interesting experience translating my limited knowledge of Christian symbolism into my own visual vocabulary, meantime sifting through the shadows of two years of Anglican churchgoing with a friend when I was a child while being raised in a non-spiritual household. Needless to say, all sorts of things surfaced.