An Allegory of Faith – Daniel Colen

The most devastating part of “The lion, the witch and the wardrobe” for me was the part where Aslan was bound to a large sacrificial table by the snow queen. Firstly…who could kill a talking lion and secondly I never really as a child understood why he gave in so easily. It didn’t really occur to me that actually it was probably due to some higher belief that A) he would be saved by a power greater than his own or B) should he be sacrificed the prospect of what ever end his faith dictated was probably not scary to him. I know I’m getting deep for a Saturday morning.

Colen’s oil on canvas painting, feels over simple at first glance. A forgotten sacrificial table bathed in light, autumn leaves strewn around, the background shows shadowy trees. So why have I picked such a seemingly simply picture to talk about on here? Personally it’s the meaning in this painting which struck me more than anything else.

I’m not religious in the slightest, so the idea of a resolute faith is a little alien to me, but I can see why it can be very important to people.

The sacrificial table in this painting is the representation of faith. It may have been left forgotten and unused, but it is sturdy and unwavering. The circle of light guiding the audience back to focal point of the table. It’s stable frame ready to be used again and at any time.

Faith is a confidence or trust in a particular system, but when religion comes in to play so does dogma. Turning faith in to blind faith as it is neigh on impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a higher being.

The fact that sacrifice in a modern day setting is very nearly unheard of (At least in the western world) which does make me wonder… if there is a higher being and sacrifice used to be given, how is this entity taking it that sacrifices stopped? Was there a meeting held with which ever God and the upper echelons of the religion or did we as a race just decide that killing a virgin wasn’t bringing great crop harvests anymore so it probably wasn’t worth it. I am being a little facetious, but why did that stop. Which leads me back to the painting and it’s empty sacrificial table….or alter.

With the onset of technology and better education religion for many has taken a back seat, but it is still there, in the background and it is generally the thing that people turn to when there is no where else to turn. Finding their faith in either later life or at times of sorrow. This I feel is the crux of this painting.

It’s far too difficult for me to have a religious debate on my own over this as I am biased to one side, but hopefully you’ll understand my thinking on this painting. I also apologies to anyone with a deep set faith as I don’t intend this post to be controversial, in fact I’m quite jealous of those with faith and how they can believe in something that is so hard to prove.

Colen’s work is varying in its style, and is a very interesting artist who utilising what is around him to create installations, sculptures and paintings. Almost creating his own language to present the cultural reference he is displaying. If you are interested in more of his work you can find it here


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