Nov 9, 2009

introducing work in progress... michael hannaford

"How does one portray something that cannot be described or fully comprehended? This is a question I have asked myself when choosing to take the theme of angels. It is both exciting and challenging at the same time.

My artwork over the last year has all been centred on prophetic imagery and visions within the bible. I have been trying to make sense of all the vivid imagery described and working out what they mean and how I can take this imagery and bring it forward to a modern audience.

We are in danger of loosing touch with our imagination in modern life, with everything being spoon-fed to us via different media, cinema, the internet and television, etc. Yet our imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have. Exploring the world of visual storytelling found within the bible opens up the imagination.

During this exploration I have centred previous work on trying to use my imagination and the imagery found in the bible to draw images of heaven and hell. In that work I used both my own imagination and the imaginations of others. You’d be surprised how exciting and interesting it is too see people’s different interpretations of texts plucked from the bible describing and heaven and hell; texts such as “an enormous red dragon with seven heads, and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.” taken from Revelation 12 verse 3, which is a description by John of Satan/The Devil.

For my angel it seemed only natural that if I wanted to find out what they look like I needed to see how the bible describes them. The bible describes several types of angels including Seraphim, Cherubim and Archangels.

There are various descriptions including Isaiah 6 verse 2: “Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.” This is the text I have taken as inspiration for my painting. All of the texts in the bible are very clear that the angels reflected God’s glory and one of God’s many characteristics is that He is Light. Take Luke, when he tells us about the shepherds in the fields: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.”

To me this seemed a very important quality to capture in my painting. This is why I decided to paint using fluorescent colours and use optical illusions as the bible also tells us that God’s glory is far too bright for us to look at easily. So I hope the optical illusions make it difficult for the viewer to look at my angel.

When taking the above verse from Isaiah 6 I looked back at how artists have interpreted it in the past. I found that there was a design made by the early church for a Seraph that can be found particularly in icons. I decided to use this traditional design but with my bright colours and optical illusions. I like fusing the contemporary - florescent colours, optical illusions - with old and traditional things such as the texts of the bible and this iconic design.

This image here is a mock-up for my final painting..."

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