In Christian art, the Narcissus flower is used as a symbol for selfishness. Unsurprisingly, the word is etymologically linked to the English word narcissism, and both have their origins in the Latin word, narkissos. Re-appropriated and re-contextualized from Giotto’s 14th century painting titled “Madonna and Child”, I titled this new icon painting “Narcissus” after introducing the symbolic flower being passed between the hands of the virgin and child.
As a large percentage of the modern, global population continues its slow migration away from traditional religious beliefs, the important characters of grand religious narratives begin to lose their identities. While the viewer can clearly recognize the two figures as the virgin and child of the Christian faith, their facial features have been wiped away, representing a loss of identity. The two figures are mounted upon a reflective mirror background – an engaging and interactive device that places the viewer’s likeness within the painting itself.
In the age of social media, spirituality and the religious experience are often neglected by the will toward violent narcissism, self-involvement and the quest for social approval of one’s synthetic digital facade. In this work, the viewer similarly becomes preoccupied with themself in the mirror background as they struggle to keep their attention toward the figures in focus who are becoming less and less recognizable.
The function of the mirror in this context can be considered a kind of performance art. By demonstrating the superficial urge of self-fascination, the viewer unwittingly completes the very message of the painting.
With the same didactic anecdote in mind, Contenta Absentis was created several months later.
Narcissus 36" x 24" x 1" | 44" x 32" x 1" framed Oil and 24k gold leaf on cut PVC mounted on mirror
24" x 18" x 1" | 30" x 24" x 1" framed
Oil and 24k gold leaf on cut PVC mounted on mirror