Fool of God (Christ in the Garden)
Oil on paper
Methodist Collection of Modern Christian Art, No.5
Commentary by Francis Hoyland
Our Lord slumps over a rock forming a serpentine diagonal across the square painting. A blue tree makes a firm division of the rectangle as does the skyline and the division between the higher ground in the foreground and the rest.
These divisions are made with great assurance. There is no fumbling, everything is definite and clear, the various forms take their places with a kind of inevitability, but it is the colour that is chiefly responsible for the mood of the painting.
The same brown red is used as in the Nathaniel painting (No 4) but in the context of the cold blue tree and the sonorous darks that surround it. It is saying something completely different. Colours generate light in painting but they can also, as they do in these two pictures, generate mood.
Painting has a lot in common with music: both arts can communicate emotional states; both need the support of consistently-built forms; and both can hint at realms of spiritual being seemingly beyond feeling.
If they did not they could not share spiritual truths with us. What is felt is physical, but faith, hope and charity in their bare state unadorned with consolations are truly supernatural.
It is the presence of these virtues that makes work 'religious.' Or maybe I should say one can read back through a picture to the motivation of the artist which can be based in these three virtues.
As we reach back, we share, so the painting has become a channel through which something of ultimate importance has flowed.