The Golden Glance
Fresco, 23” x 26”, 1996 $3500
This is an experimental type of fresco – I even purposely broke and reglued the plaster to make it look as if it were truly ripped off the wall in Pompeii from some forgotten castle. The image itself is inspired by the angel under God’s left arm in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling fresco painting “The Creation of Adam.” Much has been written about this mysterious figure. The two most common interpretations are that she is either Eve un-incarnated, or Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and God’s consort. According to the Christian gnostics, Mary Magdalene was the incarnation of Sophia as Jesus was Johovah/Yahweh.
Christian Gnosticism was a philospophy and secret sect/society that Michelangelo, da Vinci, and other artistic luminaries were familiar with at the time, though as it harbored many (still) controversial beliefs, had to be guarded with secrecy and only expressed in code. The Goddess Sophia was a prominent Goddess in the Mediterranean going back to ancient Greece and Turkey.
There is even a famous now museum in Istanbul, called the Hagia Sophia, which was once a temple to the Goddess, then took on many different incarnations itself over the centuries, including as an Islamic mosque, and then as a Christian church. Sophia was closely associated with Goddesses Athena, Isis, Innana, and Ishtar. Whether she is Eve or Sophia, God’s arm is wrapped gently and protectively around her in Michelangelo’s painting, showing she is a loving being who is special – God’s “right hand girl” so to speak, but of course, painted to the left and under the left arm, as the left side was considered the feminine side of the body in Michelangelo’s time.
Here I wished to express the mystery, beauty, and wisdom of this figure, and aspects that would seem contradictory – strength, gravitas, sweetness and vulnerability, all wrapped into one glance, one gesture, and one “vibe” at the same time. She is peaceful, but active, not passive. She is aware, but gentle and looks on without judgement, but with understanding. I wanted to give this painting rich colors and lots of warmth, the colors of Tuscany in the Renaissance. And I wanted it to express the fleeting and delightful feeling of a moment in time, a rich, soft and knowing glance, soaked in amber light and an angelic wisdom.