The Sacred Made Real (National Gallery 2010)

The Dead Christ

In the centre of a shadowed room lies a pale and bloodied corpse.  Hair, matted and tangled, is spread out on a pillow as the head lolls onto one shoulder open-mouthed, eyes open but staring into nothingness, freed from the pain of grievous and grizzly wounds.  Dirty fingernails and emaciated flesh are yet to be cleaned in preparation for entombment.  Only a piece of blue cloth saves this man from complete indignity in death.  The eye is drawn to puckered holes on hands and feet – to the sliced and deep hole in this man’s side, its leaked blood smeared down his stomach toward that blue cloth.  This was not an easy death. In the words of Isaiah,

He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, Continue reading