by John Russell, 2007
acrylic and charcoal on canvas
36" X 48"

The cross, of which this anchor is an early Christian form, has long captivated me. The vertical and horizontal respectively signify active and passive, life and death, spirit and flesh, resurrection and sacrifice, eternity and time, heaven and earth, other and self, male and female, divine and human, God and Man, Jesus Christ and His Church. Their intersection signifies the union of these – the two made one.

Unification of these opposites is accomplished only by spiritual struggle. This anchor (a combination of the cross and the alpha and the omega) testifies to this struggle by its origins as secret form of the cross - used by early Christians to identify themselves to one another - a secrecy necessitated by the persecution they endured.

I painted this cross as I did – with great energy and violence, physically attacking the canvas – because the cross is a thing of violence. Crucifixion is violent – so also is spiritual warfare. The act of painting is akin to such a struggle. This painting bears the scars of this struggle.

“The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent bear it away” (Matt 11:12).

Exhibition history:
Good Friday at Galerie Penumbra, April 6 - 28, 2007

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