27.4.07

St. George...a Tad Late....


Greetings!

Since we're posting appropriate images for feast days, here's one I put on my website on Monday....

3 comments:

Ben said...

This is an interesting image with nice colors. I like the light coming from the cross. However, there are a couple compositional things that bother me:

one is that the dragons wings read as St. George's wings. At first glance it seems like the wings are his.

twothe placement of the dragon's head and the gesture of St. G almost makes it appear the thte dragon is his pet. It's not quite clear enough that he is stabbing the beast through the head (this could be fixed by maybe putting more emphasis on the part of the spear below the head).

I do like the design of the dragon's head. I like his short muzzle.

Oh, and what is the significance of the black birds in the backgrounnd? They are really cool.

Jef Murray said...

Ben,
Your questions/concerns delighted me!

Believe it or not, I really expected the wings to "read" ambiguously, and I wanted to _suggest_ the dragon's head was pierced, but then have it not quite appear so.

More than anything, I wanted this to be a...well...disturbing image of St. George. I wanted it to feel _almost_ right, but not _quite_...that something was "off". I'm thinking, from your questions, that I succeeded!

Ah, and the birds. I can't say what their significance is...they just seemed to want to be included. Emissaries to the countryside to proclaim the death of the dragon? Angelic beings witnessing the events? I don't think I really know....

Jef Murray said...

Ben,

On second reading, I think my comments made it sound like I was discounting your comments. I was not! I very much appreciate them!
And, compositionally, your observations were entirely correct.

My intent with the piece , however, was to start exploring something that has always troubled me about "fighting the enemy", and that is the tendency to become what we fight.

The classic images of St. George always show the simple conquering of the dragon. You mentioned that this version makes the dragon look almost like a pet, and the wings almost seem to belong to St. George.

Part of this was intentional, and part just happened as the painting came along. But it does remind me very much of J.R.R. Tolkien's reaction to the fact that C.S. Lewis had dedicated "The Screwtape Letters" to him. He was horrified. He believed that one should never get too close to the methods of the Enemy; it was too dangerous.

So, in this piece, the question is...how much must one think like a dragon in order to conquer a dragon?

I know I'm probably making too big a deal out of this, but wanted to explain further...please forgive my disgraceful long-windedness!!!