Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Rilke Project III

"Terrible Angels: For Rilke"
Conte pencil, colored pencil

I thought about how to depict terrible angels. I didn't want to do anything that looked like a Renaissance angel. I looked at many images created by Frida Kahlo and I also looked at several books of primitive art. I decided to create two angels who are vaguely skeletal and vaguely reptilian in appearance. I included an angel in the background who is more human in appearance and bathed her in sunlight.

We can never know whether a terrible angel will be pleasing or repugnant to the eye.

In "The Man Watching," Rilke writes of the angel who wrestled humans of the Old Testament:

When the wrestler's sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Rilke says that what we should want is to be beaten by this angel because in doing so, we will go away "proud and strengthened and great." Rilke says that the defeat kneads us as if to change our shape. Of the Old Testament human wrestler, Rilke says:

Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

1 comment:

emmapeelDallas said...

Terrible Angels, I like that...it's an interesting idea, and I really like your depiction.



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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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