Friday, August 11, 2006

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa



This is "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa":

The painting itself, comprised of two panels, measures approximately 14 feet in length and 5 feet in height. One panel is painted in color; the other in black and white. It is the zenith, if you will, of my randy saints series; that being my series of paintings of female saints that explores the fine line between sexual ecstasy and spiritual ecstasy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I was inspired by passages from a Dan Brown novel that describe St. Theresa's sculpture as seemingly in the throes of a massive orgasm. Alarmingly so, Brown would recount. Shockingly so, others would suggest. On a less interesting note, Brown also suggests the sculpture was linked to the Illuminati, the shadow organization that fuels, to a large degree, the plot of "Angels and Demons."

Don't, by the way, rush out and buy this book. You are perhaps familiar with the term "jump the shark?" It is most often used to describe that moment or episode in which a previously enjoyable television show abandons those things that made it good and sells out to Hollywood. "Angels and Demons" officially jumps the shark when it turns out that the new Pope knows how to fly a helicopter. Please.

Anyway, the statue itself was sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and figures prominently in the decoration of the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

The following except from St. Theresa's autobiography should make clear why painting her seemed like such an excellent idea:

"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying."

I mean, honestly...what's left to say?

Actually a couple of things, but I'm going to let the woman's words sink in for a while; revisit my thoughts on the painting later.

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