The Devil's Grimy Brother, 2013
oil, alkyd, thread on canvas
48 x 36 in
photo: Jim Lommasson
This is a tale about a man, who has been abused, and makes a deal with the Devil. This is not a religious devil, but more like a subterranean (subconscious) earth entity. The man will become prosperous if he tends the Devil's cauldrons in hell for seven years, during which time he cannot wash himself, brush his hair, trim his fingernails, or groom himself in any way. He must keep the hell fires going and not look into the cauldrons.
Naturally he peeks into the cauldrons and sees the people who had abused him and they still yell at him from the cauldrons. He stokes the fires more.
After the seven years are up, the Devil is pleased - the Devil knows the man looked into the cauldrons but stoked the fires even more. The Devil sends the man back to the world with a knapsack full of gold but tells him not to clean up until he gets to the palace. On the man's way to the Kingdom he is robbed. He returns to the Devil who cleans the man up and tells him what to do. So the man goes back looking like a Prince, confronts the innkeeper who robbed him, gets the gold back. Then he marries the Princess and inherits the Kingdom. Also, as an aside, the devil teaches him music and how to play an instrument which he uses to woo the Princess.
I find it an interesting take on false forgiveness. The man does not even pretend to forgive his abusers. He has to spend years in hell, but he makes it through. In the end, his whole vital nature is restored, he unites with the Princess and he inherits the Kingdom. I think this is about people who have experienced abuse, which puts them in hell. The tale shows one way of transforming abuse.
I've painted him in a golden field like the fires he tended and the gold he earned. Different colors of embroidery thread are stitched into the canvas around the painted patches.
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