'Scripture', Denis Brown 1995, mixed media book art, 5 x 4 feet
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CONTROVERSIAL! This art is a satirical burlesque regarding sex scandals exposed within Church hierarchies. Two huge spermatozoa's are painted wearing bishop's mitres on their heads. The black round shapes are black condoms collaged to the surface. The large black crosses are painted onto the picture glass and cast a shadow on the scriptural text, as if protecting it while simultaneously crossing it out.
Latin text in a script derived from Irish pointed minuscule is written on the painted background, with interlinear translation on separate strips of paper collaged to the surface. This work comes from a hard-hitting period in work from my mid-twenties, when I felt a need to explore polemics, and to show that calligraphy could be other than 'pretty'. I considered the concepts carefully, as evidenced from my text description of the time, below. Read on at your discretion, some people may be disturbed by this. I assure you, my intention was to provoke thought more than provoke anything else, and such work reflects the rebellious spirit of a young man observing chaos and confusion.
Texts on discharge of semen from Leviticus chapter 15
"The man that hath an issue of seed shall be unclean", says the Lord, and this evil will contaminate anybody in direct contact with him. Texts such as this can only derive from principles of a denial of the flesh, which can be traced as far back as ancient Greece. Plato saw the body as the lowest element in the chain of creation, and people strived to transcend bodily tendencies. Sensuality and sexuality in particular were seen as earthy pleasures to be kept in check by a transcendent spirituality.
These principles were adopted by the early Christians and are still extant in the Church today. The texts could be seen as humorous today, but pedophile and sex scandals exposed in church hierarchies in recent times should make us re-evaluate whether it is healthy to attempt deny ones sexuality.
If some people find works in this series overly satirical; merely preying on an easy target at a time of crisis in the Church, then I do apologize. There are times when I myself can see them in no other light. The images presented themselves to me and I used them, for I have no other response to the escalating tensions between Christianity and sexuality which are now resulting in shocking climaxes. I was interested how a text may don new pertinence because of its displacement and projection into a different time from when it was first written.
This is a large scale work