Here are a few pics from Geisai #3 in Taipei – my theme was “irreligious iconography” so I did some simple pop-culture icons and celebrities using antique religious icon frames from Cuzco, Peru. My paintings were very popular – everybody turned the corner, smiled or laughed, then grabbed their friends to come take a look.
“Lamb Chop ” 血浴- 127x97cm- Oil on Canvas, 2010
A.k.a. “Criobolium” – a poor man’s taurobolium; involves the slaughter of a sacred animal, and the ritual bathing in its blood. The death of the animal was supposed to take away sins – it died in the place of a human in order to satiate the bloodthirsty gods. The blood of the animal was used to wash away remaining sins. These practices were common in the Roman empire; Criobolium in particular was used in the worship of Attis and the Great Mother.
The ancient ritual continues, albeit in symbolic form, in modern Christianity. In this painting, Jesus has torn apart Lamb Chop and is shaking drops of blood on a bunch of Asian females. This sacred and powerful ceremony is belittled by the uninterested revelers, who are characteristically involved in playfully posing for the camera. Jesus is exasperated or resigned; he’s acting out of habit and duty, but has lost confidence in making real spiritual progress.
Interpretations: Jesus is the ‘tree of life’ – however he’s standing on the trunk of a much bigger and older tradition. The Jesus in this painting is really only a boy (young and short). The Taiwanese/Chinese, whose own spiritual traditions (mostly offshoots of Buddhism) predate Christianity, coddle and humor him in his bizarre and gruesome attempt to use ancient magical blood rituals to save their eternal souls.
Likewise, missionaries in Asia are often very earnestly trying to do what they consider is right; however their beliefs are often cut off from the vast and complicated history of Christianity and offer instead a rough, well-meant but ineffectual (and culturally inappropriate) form of indoctrination.
Oil on Canvas Surrealism Oil Painting by Derek Murphy www.derekmurphyart.com