I had no interest in religion, to speak of, until about 1991. Coming to terms with a death in the family. Since then I have felt compelled to turn my attention to religious considerations. Religion is, after all, the arbiter of death. It defines what happens to us afterwards, to say nothing of providing for the ritual of transition. It was the former issue that proved problematic. That issue, as I discovered over time, was ultimately one of faith: What evidence is there that what religion says happens after death is true? In this particular case, what evidence is there that Christianity, the Christian cosmology -what the world is made up of, how it works- is true? “Why, the Bible, of course.”
Of course. But, to put it mildly, I had trouble believing.
I did this painting as a sort of meditation. On religion? Not exactly. Or at least, not entirely. On spirituality. Faith and, as suggested in the title, doubt. The painting was the form that the meditation took. A reflection upon a nexus of ideas. Communicating the issues of contemplation, through familiar symbols.
You might notice that the surface looks encrusted. It’s acrylic on canvas, but there is such a build up it weighs a ton. That’s because it is actually 20 or so variations of this image painted on top of each other. Adjustments in colors, placement. 20 to 30 layers of paint and glazes. Perhaps more. Over a period of about 5 years. There are many paintings beneath the surface of the one you see. It was a meditation. Hence, the journey was at least as important as the end product.
I have always admired this painting. I was thinking that if there were any painting in the history of art that I would like to own, it would be this one. So I was pleased when it occurred to me that this painting provided the perfect theme by which to represent my meditation. “Doubting Thomas”. Of course my major deviation from the original (apart from a certain modernistic flattening of volume) is my use of light, exchanging the highly naturalistic representation of Caravaggio for something a bit more mystical; a second source of light emitting from the wound in Christ’s side.