Romanian artist Octavian Mielu’s canvas print reached out and drew me in as dinner ended. I could not ignore it. It was so familiar, yet different, haunting, and revealing. At the time, I did not recognise the artist. Modern pop art is not a genre that I favour. Candidly, I usually find it superficial. Consequently, rarely do I give it more than a passing glance.
Yet this piece was different. I found myself looking, hesitating, starting to move on only to return and reflect. The simplicity of it all began with a quiet whisper. As my awareness of the lessons in the moment grew, I knew ignorance and denial were not going to be an excuse I could use.
As I find myself remembering, examining the picture taken in haste, I am struck by the careless hanging, ragged frame, and poorly stretched cotton canvas. It was as if the person hanging the picture wanted to reflect every aspect of the picture’s name, “Fallen Angel”.
I find myself going back to three lessons I took from the painting.
Frist, irony emerges from my efforts to paint myself as angelic. In the results, I reveal the opposite. The act of wrapping an image with symbols of purity highlights the contrast, both physically and metaphorically, between the tangible and how we want to see ourselves. Life never masks the darkness I wear. My darkness highlights the light.
Second, there is a revelation between the contrast between the transient of the present and symbols which endure across the generations. I may think we are sharing a beautiful story. On reflection, I see something very different. Two stories layered on each other. One of peace, beauty, and hope. The other revealed deception and mistaken confidence.
Third, even as we try to bury the truth, Truth fights back. Paul left a warning; “God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth.” (Romans 1.18)
I saw and heard a call to live with authenticity, truth, and tangible compassion.