Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sacrificial Animal

My brain is still like a soft sponge after the migraines, I must tackle subjects to get it working again! Holman Hunt's The Scapegoat took my fancy, looking at his paintings, especially The Light of the World painting which is far too stylised and badly done as a religous statement of meaning, at least to my eyes. Criticism though of the above painting is that it has a rather 'staged effect' the posed goat (the first died poor creature and the above is the second one he tethered in a tray of sand) and skeleton in the background. The background waste/desert is evocative but the subject matter is pretty miserable...Why do we sacrifice animals? it is so that our sins can be taken up by something other than ourselves and in this instance lost in the desert to die, a rather macabre thought, this is the allegorical wilderness we face if we have no belief.

The good side of Hunt though is that he can turn his subject matter into a story, see the previous Lady of Shalott poem, poetry and art are part of the same vein of thought. The Pre-raphaelites turned their hands to too many things, poetry, painting, needlework and furniture making, Morris in his endless pursuit of a stylised medieval world reduced his subject matter, Hunt on the other hand expanded his painting into other subjects.
For me the painting is a reminder that humans often treat animals badly, and that this act is an ultimate act of selfishness to make something other than ourselves pick up the burden of our bad deeds, it is primitive and cruel. Cruelly treating animals is still part of today of course, but then by the same method we are as cruel to other humans, cruelty is just part of the makeup of particular societies or people.

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