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About the work

This piece came from a growing interest in the nature of angels, which appear in many cultures and world religions.
The Christian idea of the angel is as a polarised, and rather one-dimensional symbol of "goodness", and is associated with light - both physically and spiritually (and therefore, by extension, morally).
However, in many religions the angel is a much more complex and ambiguous figure, representing elements of both light and dark.
They are often messengers from the spiritual realm, carrying out the bidding of God or gods.

This picture came from a particularly intense existential (and therefore spiritual) struggle that I was engaged with at the time.
In the early hours of the morning, as I lay awake, the biblical image of Jacob's struggle with the angel came to me with great vividness, and took on a renewed and urgent meaning for me.

The sheer grittiness of the description of Jacob wrestling with the angel (sent by God?), at night, on the banks of a river - encountered on his way back to Canaan, seemed so real to me that this picture began to form in my mind.

Far from being an ethereal being, this angel was deeply corporeal - and although he carried a sense of menace and darkness, he was not intrinsically evil - rather, he was rooted in the soil and was of both the Earth and of the air.
He was both the Exterminating Angel and a protector and guide into the light.

Jacob is laid out by the struggle - tired, and tattered and torn - at this stage not equal to the fight - but around the booted feet of the angel lie the surgical implements of healing: scalpels, forceps, needles and suture materials, signifying that the struggle is necessary for Jacob's physical and spiritual healing to begin.


PublisherMichael Hayter
Certificate of authenticityIncluded

About the artist

I'm primarily a figurative painter of the human condition, taken from the perspective of personal experience. Although I originally trained to be a veterinarian, I have always drawn and painted and now balance my life between these two disciplines. My work really started when, having suffered for many years with depression , I began to create from this dark space and found a rich seam of both imagery and meaning there – with all the moral and existential difficulties it presents. My childhood is a powerful influence and a rich source of material. This has led to a flowering of creativity that touches on the profound, and often religious or spiritual experiences of being human. I went to art school in London in the '90s and now have a studio at Spike Island Artspace, a world-renowned centre for contemporary art, situated in Bristol, UK Having worked in a variety of media, I'm now predominantly focuses on painting and drawing but also recently branched out into sculpture and animation. I have exhibited in London, Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Nottingham, Bordeaux, France (2015) and Maastricht, Netherlands (2016). I have collaborated with French artist Olivier Specio on the project At Last We Fly (2015). My work is features in private collections in the UK, France, Belgium, Holland and the US.

Other work of Michael Hayter

The Boy With The Golden Crab
Painting, 12x15 cm (w/h)
Painting, 26.8x35.5x0.1 cm (w/h/d)
Old Man Opening A Can
Work on paper, 41x56x3 cm (w/h/d)
Hugging The Blackthorn
Painting, 7.7x12.7 cm (w/h)
Painting, 38x28 cm (w/h)
Young Man Telling An Old Man About The World Outside
Work on paper, 21x15 cm (w/h)
Old Man, Seated
Painting, 30x30x3 cm (w/h/d)
The Poet Drinks
Painting, 59.4x84.1x0.1 cm (w/h/d)
A New Arrival
Sculpture, 150x174x80 cm (w/h/d)
Passing Consciousness
Painting, 37.6x27.5 cm (w/h)