Annunciation

For me the Annunciation is an encounter, the evocative and transcendent event of giving and receiving and the mythical unification of the earthly and the divine.

It is a myth with roots reaching far back into human history and with a fascinating symbolism which is still felt today. The encounter of Mary with the angel Gabriel is physical. Originally, this event is based in the idea of the Old World to live sexuality in relation to the divine experience. Two thousand years of Christianity worked for the sinfulness of body and sexuality, and still the physical and emotional experience is not fully concealed in depictions of the Annunciation.

I portray Mary, the earthly, the female and Gabriel, the heavenly, the divine spouse separately, each on its own canvas. The encounter takes place extending the single picture. The space is imaginary. Hence, the event surmounts the illustrative spatiality.

Mary is the young woman, destined to spin the purple thread for the temple curtain, the blood red thread of fate. The spindle releases irreversibly and predetermined the purple thread in which Mary is forfeited herself. The snake emerges, Mary’s relation to Eve is implied – the new Eve. The worm winds its way from the figure of Gabriel towards the thighs of the woman. The sheding animal is part of the composition – a symbol of eternal renewal. “And there came a cloud of dew and sprinkled me from the head to the feet.” 1 It came over Mary, a blue cloud cast over her. It is this intangible, enraptured blue of her heavenly cape, slightly moving and shimmering through. The woman conceives, she recoils and refuses, she surrenders and accepts.

The angel Gabriel in blue is rather a vision than a tangible being. The divine messenger delivers the lily – the flower of purity, grace and the king´s reign.

Mary and the Unicorn

The circle of legends opens in blue, white and yellow. The wild animal, the unicorn – “the legendary creature, startling white […] his coat shone like reflected moonlight. High on his forehead rose the magic horn, the sign of his uniqueness: a tower held upright.” 2 – flees, driven by Gabriel, the hunting, the angel, into the Virgin’s lap. The animal’s horn rises from its forehead where the mind sits. It becomes a symbol of converted sexual strength and an attribute for virgin purity and chastity. Through its unnaturalness the unicorn becomes an allegory for the law-of-nature-breaking motherhood of Mary.

In this painting I resume the allegorical depiction of the Annunciation from the late middle ages. Fairytale symbols stimulate my creativity. Mary’s face is lost into an imaginary blue. The dazzling white, as an incomprehensible origin, penetrates the woman’s lap which is aglow with the yellow light. References to vegetation hint to the “closed garden”, in which the great work of transformation takes place mythologically.

1 The Gospel of Bartolomew II,17 From “The Apocryphal New Testament”, M. R. James -Translation and Notes, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924.

2 Rainer Maria Rilke, The Unicorn, translated by Albert Ernest Flemming, 1983