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Jacob And The Angel

pen and ink and watercolour on watercolour paper
26.8x36.1x0.1 cm (w/h/d)
For sale

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.