Early this year I was caught by Saint Mary Magdalene. I was thinking of her all the time. I had read some of the modern books about her but they had not impressed me. The inspiration just came to me as many others. I just had to paint Mary or I would go crazy. All the time I thought of her I saw a face, a very sad face, the face that saw Jesus die in the cross. It made my heart bleed. Some months passed till I could draw the face on a canvas and start painting. Meanwhile I kept on reading about her and got the gospel that is attributed to her, one of the Gnostic gospels. It is incomplete but shows the image of a tender woman yet a leader.
Then I did other 4 paintings of her, each with a meaning to me. In one she holds the alabaster jar, with the perfume she used to anoint Jesus feet, another shows her with her hidden gospel, another shows her in France, where it is said she died. The last one shows her with the Holy Grail. All interpretations of the paintings are open to you.
Here I am posting the analysis done by Allyson Erland, a collector of Magdalene art and who owns the 5 paintings dome by me.
“I wrote a little personal analysis concerning the paintings earlier today before I received this e-mail. I thought you might enjoy it so here it is.
Personal Meditations and Reflections on the Magdalene Paintings
After spending time in the presence of your Magdalene’s I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you, the artist.
Painting #1 (“Intimate Mary”): I see this one as the most intimate and untraditional of the four and my personal favorite. I find her face absolutely beautiful, so gentle and welcoming even though seemingly expressionless. Her eyes are soft and inviting but somehow piercing at the same time. I can feel her examining me from within, discerning my innermost secrets.
Painting #2 (“Iconic Mary”): The style of this one reminds me of an Eastern orthodox icon. As in the first painting her gaze is positioned straight ahead, however she has lost the personal intimacy and emotion permeating the original. Her closeness to her audience has been replaced by a more otherworldly look, as though she doesn’t really see you but is looking beyond to something of a more spiritual, intangible nature.
Painting #3 (“Gnostic Mary”): In this piece you’ve adopted a De Vinci look. Magdalene is envisioned as the ‘Mona Lisa’ with the addition of the alabaster jar in her hands. An intriguing choice since De Vinci was deeply influenced by Gnostic symbolism and beliefs, most likely a closet Gnostic himself well informed in the “Mysteries of Magdalene”. There’s the possibility that the Mona Lisa was Magdalene incognito.
Painting #4 (“Pastoral Mary”): Though I’ve only viewed this image on-line it’s easy to see that the pastel coloring gives a softer, soothing feel to this piece. I also like the way you distanced your perspective to include more than just Magdalene’s face and shoulders. The way her left hand is reaching for her veil in a gesture to cover her countenance from prying eyes is very seductive. This one may eventually become my favorite.
Comparison of the Four: The first Magdalene is warm, vulnerable and accessible, the second beautiful but remote and transcendent, the third secretive and distracted and the fourth calm but somewhat shy and guarded. I think you’ve really captured the essence of Mary Magdalene in your artwork, especially in the first and fourth painting.
Painting #5 Very beautiful! I immediately noticed how bold and confident Mary is as the "Keeper of the Grail Mysteries". Not as all the shy, lenitive Magdalene as she appeared the previous painting. I also like the choice of a blue dress representing water and baptism into new life for the one who discovers the Grail's secret.