If you are a long time reader of this website, you will know that religion is one of the key themes, simply because it is so intrinsic in art. There is a vast amount of relgious art in every gallery you go to, or statues and monuments dedicated to the cause of story telling and worship.
By far one of my most popular articles is a breif one I wrote about a sculpture of Lucifer, when I first started this site. It really explains nothing about the fallen angel, so after watching the docufilm “Hail Satan?” yesterday, I decided to use this beautiful painting by Ferri to put this right.
I love Ferri’s work, as it echoes the classical masters but with modern twists. The models look more like the ideals of today, and they have a beautiful insight to the character that he is portraying on the canvas.
In this image, the audience is presented with the naked form of Lucifer, he is a perfect speciemen of the angelic form. His large black wings span wider than the canvas will allow the viewer to see. He is perched on a mount, eyes cast downwards, and there is a cuff on his blacked foot, as though the touch of the earth is changing his angelic form to something more ghoulish. His finger draws a line in the rock that he is sat on, and on a very close inspection you can see a firey glow from the rock with the embers reflecing in the ankle cuff. The sky behind him is dark, with no heavenly glow, indicating that this is his fall from heaven, and now there is a choice whether to walk the Earth or go to the underworld.
I find this painting particulary interesting, as there are some challenges within the work which reflect something I hadn’t really thought prior to watching a documentary on Satanism.
To think about this clearly, we need to understand the story of Lucifer and how he fell from Gods grace. There are several iterations of this, dependent on what faction of Christianity you chose to read about or follow, I am only going to cover two, but there is a tonne of information out there on the net for the inquisitive amoungst you (if you don’t mind the pop ups offering to help you pray away your anxiety, or trying to get you to sign up for emails on the scriptures).
Lucifer was the first angel to be created, he was the brightest, most beautiful and most intelligent of the angels, in fact Lucifer is the translation of Venus, and he was heralded as the bringer of dawn due to his luminescence.
The issue with God creating such a bright and intelligent angel was that Lucifer then felt he was equal to God and should be worshipped in the same way. This being the start of sin, made God cast Lucifer out of heaven as it was sacrilege to think that anyone could be equal to God. Lucifer was cast down to Earth and this is where he became corrupt and changed his name from Lucifer (Morning Star) to Satan (adversary).
The second telling of this story comes from Bogomilism where Lucifer is the older brother to Jesus. When God favours Jesus over Lucifer, he starts to try and get the other angels to worship him rather than Jesus. God confides in Jesus about his plans for creation, pushing Lucifer ever further away from God and creating jealousy. As Lucifer pushes against Gods divine government he is pushed out of heaven… and you know the rest.
Now, I went to a church of England primary school, so I was very used to having the tales from the bible told to me at an early age, and really… I never questioned them in perhaps the way I should have. I did go out and explore all other religions before deciding it wasn’t for me, but never did I think… hold up, something doesn’t sound right here.
On refelction of these stories now, it sounds like God didn’t like to be questioned, which sounds very much like a dictatorship or an abusive relationship. We are taught religion in a way which supports not asking questions of the all powerful being which is the head of it… I don’t know how many times I heard “because that’s what God wanted” to questions I asked as a kid. This way of teaching pushes people to accept what they are told in the end. As an example… the story of Adam and Eve, firstly – why is it the downfall of Adam? Eve ate the apple first, and why didn’t God want them to eat an apple? Apples are good for you… they apparently keep the doctor away, so why is it Eve and the apple are demonised in this story? Why would God put that apple tree there if not to act as temptation in the first place? Was Lucifer just trying to get Eve to have a balanced diet?
I need to point out, I don’t feel the need to affliate to any type of religion or group based belief, so even though I am questioning these actions, it doesn’t mean that I feel the urge to turn to Satanism to find comfort. I am happy being a person who tries to live their best life, outside of the rules of religion.
There are other stories where we are told that Lucifer tried to tempt people from Gods will… Abraham killing his son because God told him to, Noah building a giant boat becase he only wanted a few people to survive a great flood, Jesus wondering the desert with no food or water… each time Lucifer pops up and says “hey don’t kill your son”, “why are you building that boat?” or “Dude, here is some water and food”… These don’t really sound like demonic actions, more someone questioning the will of God and maybe giving a more logical way to things… as killing your son because a divine being told you to, is…in fact a pretty stupid thing to do.
If you look at the painting again now, Lucifer sits on the rock, looking down on Earth, his facial expression is not really one of hatred or worry from what has happened to him, I think it is more contemplative, looking upon the Earth as though it deserves more answers than questions. His vast wings, spreading over the landscape almost shielding those below him from God’s view, his blackened foot perhaps a symbol for the loss of Gods light as he starts to look for the answers that were not forthcoming under God’s reign. The firey embers from the line drawn on the rock a prophecy which is yet to be fullfilled, as it is said that after the second coming of Christ he will be condemned to a firey pit.
However you look at the story of Lucifer, him either being the root of all evil and the balance to Gods goodness, or the questioning force which should make us strive to look for answers, he is an interesting and indept character that this painting encapsulates beautifully.
What do you see when you look at “Lucifero”? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?