On The Road To Emmaus
Acrylic on Canvas. Size: 120cm x 150cm
In the painting a man lies naked and powerless on the ground with a set of ear pods in his ears. He is balancing a burger on his head which is ultimately weighing him down because of its many layers. This burger is colourful, appetising, and attractive like the culture of human achievement and progress we see in the modern world. The layers and complexity give much flavour, but ironically, they can sometimes become a headache as we live busy lives overloaded with work and information.
The apocalyptic donkey standing on the man’s back recalls the image of the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem before his death. This scene from the Bible depicts a moment of glory and joy which gives hope to the people but is also the first in a series of tragic events which lead to Jesus’ crucifixion a few days later. In this story we see confusion and a tension between hope and fear as the people wonder what is going to happen next. The title of my painting explores this tension further: shortly after his death, Jesus meets his disciples on the road to Emmaus. They are in a state of despair as they believe him to be dead and have no hope for the future. When they realise that he has resurrected, their hope is renewed and although the future is still uncertain, there is a sense of joy and anticipation. Other imagery in this painting also explores this tension. The rocket on the back of the donkey is launching into space, a place of discovery and novelty, but at the same time it is blowing up as it rises into the sky. The vaccine in the corner of the painting is a subject that brings much tension in society – it has the potential to be a powerful protection against the virus, but it has also become a source of controversy as some distrust its legitimacy. Hovering between the donkey and the man lying on the ground is an ear pod astronaut who represents the continued connection of the man on the ground to the world around him. Even though the man is tired, he is keeping his eyes open to the world around like an astronaut exploring a new planet in outer space. He is apprehensive about the danger around him but also curious about his surroundings and how he can be a part of it.
As we recover from this pandemic, many will feel a complex mixture of emotions including hope and despair. I titled my painting ‘On the Road to Emmaus’ with the hope that humanity might encounter a miracle that gives us optimism for a bright future rather than hopelessness.