Tuesday 28 February 2017

Art in focus: 'The Devil'

'The Devil' is a card all about lust, impulses and the darker side of human nature. In a Tarot reading the card can relate to despair, addiction, lust, sex, negativity, fear, illusion and human impulses considered sinful. As you would probably imagine the connotations of the card are considered negative. But the message of the card does not attempt to blame 'The Devil' as a character for these things, it warns that these feelings come from within us, and the devilish nature within us which may be out of control.

Depending on Tarot deck 'The Devil' has a great many guises, from horned beasts, to Baphomet-esque princes of darkness, to modern day red monsters. The Devil and a physical representation of evil is featured within most cultures, hence many artists have a clear idea and personal identity for this card. The earliest Tarot depictions of 'The Devil' relate largely, as you would expect, to historical portrayals of the Devil from Medieval art. A Horned beast, satyr-esque, with female breasts and male genitals, as in most ancient western depictions of Satan, a grotesque face resides upon the stomach (sometimes this was the genitals), and wings denote the fall of an angel from grace, and the creation of Satan. A male and female Satyr were usually a common feature also, possibly denoting the Devils relationship with mankind. 

When designing my depiction of 'The Devil' I wanted to draw on original features which appeared in early images of Satan from across Europe, including dual gender, horns, hoofed feet, part animal part beast, wings and satyrs. But I also wanted to mold my demon with modern day depictions of Satan in mind, largely Baphomet, the Sabbatic Goat and the association goats have with occultism. In many cultures, goats are considered lustful and unclean, which is from where their ties with Satanism have been drawn. By combining many elements used when depicting the Devil, and Baphomet in art, I came up with my own interpretation of 'The Devil'.
In one hand the Devil holds a torch, this represents the flame of original sin which burns within us all, he holds this flame as a reminder of Lust, Passion, Greed and human nature. His other hand is raised to bar entrance to his domain. His arms are positioned in the 'as above, so below' pose, representing harmony. Above the door to Satan's domain in the inverted pentagram, s symbol of Satan himself, and also of the darker side of magic and occultism, which the Devil is barring access to for the unworthy.
A man and a woman, representing mankind, are transforming into Satyrs - the longer spent by Satan's side, the more mankind comes to resemble him and act as his servants. Their physical traits, such as their horns and tails, represent primal, animalistic instincts, and the transformation of their physical characteristics suggests that they are becoming more like their master. Depending on your interpretation the Satyrs are enslaved, but I prefer to think of them as having made a conscious choice to live a life considered sinful, indulging in instincts such as lust, greed, and all that they desire. They are bound by chains to Satan's pedestal, but it is a choice they have made of their own free will.

In my depiction I felt it was important to draw a clear connection between sin, Satan and humanity. This card expresses the interconnection of these factors, and I wanted that to be the clear focus within my image.

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