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Albrecht Durer – The Revelation of St. John – 1497

It’s pretty hard to love the Bible and not love symbolism. And it’s difficult to appreciate what are arguably the most beautiful paintings in the history of man if you don’t understand the symbolism painstakingly portrayed in them.

Hans Holbein the Younger – An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments – 1535

Only about 50% of the *work* involved with creating a painting is the actual application of paint. The other 50% represents the designing and preparation. There is much for an artist to consider when designing a painting, especially if they plan to reveal a hidden or long lost mystery. Research is key, you want to be absolutely certain that what you are about to say is something you can back up. You must ask yourself, “What am I trying to say? What’s the best way to say it?” All the while striving for balance between message and aesthetic. When it comes to symbolism, everything from colour, to shape, to size has a specific meaning.

Final Design Sketch of Messiah, pre-Paint

The problem with symbolic painting is that if the artist does not explain the symbolism they have utilized, the meaning is likely to be lost on the viewer, rendering the piece, in my opinion, a huge waste of time. Art should always have a message. And I do not believe that art is subjective. When it comes to my painting, I, the artist, essentially am god: My Creation – I decide what to paint, why I’m painting it, and what it means. My explanation of my work trumps anyone else’s opinion of what they think they see or understand in said painting. That doesn’t mean that different people won’t appreciate the painting in different ways, but the meaning, the message, is specified by the artist and the artist alone.

This is a painting I was commissioned to create a few months ago. It is entitled: “Messiah

Wendy Brydge – Messiah – 2012

When the painting was finished, I e-mailed a photo of it to my aunt. She promptly asked me to explain what it meant. You know, it’s not so easy to explain something which I have spent my entire life studying! Especially when I look at the piece and think it’s self explanatory. I say to myself, “The meaning is obvious!” Hmm. Not so obvious to everyone else. Herein lies the reason a *good* artist always explains, to some degree, the symbolism in their painting. A symbolic painting is painted more for others, rather than for yourself. Symbolism is a language, and it’s one which you have to learn. There are so many things that you have to know, in order to put the pieces together; scripture you have to read; thinking and studying you have to do. I could write you an entire book to explain “Messiah” (actually someone already did, it’s called the Bible) but for here and now, I will do my best to give you a simple explanation which I hope will help you understand the message I’ve painted.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, Father TRUTH said that the Messiah would be God Himself in flesh. Christ means Messiah. Christ is not Jesus’ last name. “Jesus Messiah” – Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is God in flesh, God Himself in mortal form.

Depicted in this painting is a symbol – menorah, star of David and fish – as well as the four living creatures of Ezekiel and Revelation. The symbol itself represents unity between man and God – The Messiah. Yes, Jesus is God, but Father TRUTH is even greater than the Messiah (the Form of God). Father TRUTH is everywhere, and in everything, He is not limited to a physical form.

The symbol is actually 2 separate symbols, which when combined into this one symbol reveal the Messiah. One symbol – a triangle pointing upward, into the menorah (the triangle is the base of the menorah) – represents man reaching up to God; man reaching up to God reveals the Law: God Almighty (represented by the menorah – God – the Authority – the Law – that which gives light). Man  begins with a foundation which is first layed down and then built upon; a foundation made up of truths, small ‘t’; these truths are how God does things; science, biology, formulas and equations. As man builds truths upon truths, his ultimate goal is to build up to a pinnacle – the top of the pyramid – attaining power, that power which comes from his understanding.

The second symbol – a triangle pointing downward, into the fish (the triangle is the tail of the fish) – represents God reaching down to man; God reaching down to save humanity (the fish represents humanity). This triangle begins at the point (the pinnacle). It starts with God (the power) and God reveals wisdom and understanding which when He opens our minds, is limitless.

The two symbols, when combined, reveal the TRUTH – what  saves humanity – reveals Jesus “the Messiah”, God reaching down to save us.

The symbol also shows the uniting of the Old and New Testaments; the combining of the old and new covenants as one covenant. Jesus came to fulfil the law. If you break the law in just one place, you’ve broken the entire law. Who can keep the law? I tell you, no, not one. Under the law we would all be condemned. The choices we make are to Love or to Hate, and to divide Truth from Falsehood. In everyday life, so many choices to make, a wrong choice is sin, and under the law the wages of sin is death. So Jesus came and took away all those choices, leaving us with just one choice which either saves or condemns…Is Jesus our deliverance and our Saviour, or isn’t He? Now the only choice we have to make is whether or not we will follow TRUTH and LOVE, Jesus is His name.

The four living creatures reveal characteristics of God, and characteristics which under God’s wisdom, we should strive for as well. The four living creatures are: the Ox – Maturity; the Lion – Authority; the Eagle – Vision; the Man – Creativity. The Messiah embodies the creatures in perfect proportion and balance. So all in all, this painting represents the absolute righteousness, and absolute perfection of God.

You will also note that the painting is predominantly the colours of fire. In the Bible, the Fire of God is the TRUTH revealed. *wink*

How could anyone not love symbolism? :)