.. why

  

. beauty from darkness
    

                                                          "For death is all the fashion now,

                                                           'til even death be dead."  - William Butler Yeats

 

 

 

Much as visual beauty is distinctly conditioned by our culture's evolving notions of order or disorder, beauty asserts its signature strangely in contexts of spiritual darkness. This makes for a morally ambiguous and unstably polarized viewing experience, a phenomenon explored in the three galleries here.   

 

But what's meant by evil content, in the first place? Hollywood has made a finely entertaining business out of the sanitized, Harry Pottered, Halloweened, science-fictionalized, monster-mashed celebration of darkness in this world. So much so, that our children could come away supposing that evil today is easy to spot because it’s ugly-looking.  What's more, they're apt to surmise that evil is tamable, more a concept or misunderstanding than anything else, a bad idea that good triumphs over, as immaterial as a fairy tale. Sleep well.

Off the sound stage, evil is not that way. Its presence in life, often stealthy, is real, and never to be celebrated. Evil is predatory malevolence. It is the impulse to destroy, to crush the spirit of life out of other creatures, and to enjoy doing so. To act out of evil is to serve your own vain wishes at all costs, to exalt death over love, to exploit weakness, to sew despair, to make life seem meaningless or hopeless. Evil sparks fear, it's true, but even more, evil begets suffering, always, and to observe unnatural suffering is to stand in evil's merciless shadow.

During our times, steeped in selfishness, lies, and cruelty, evil makes its daily appearance beneath a thousand masks, some quite subtle. The subtle ones always scare the wits out of me. These images of implied menace seek to convey the uncanniness of evil’s presence as though it is lurking just off-stage, a bit like glimpsing Medusa's horrible countenance obliquely, through a mirror. Because beauty is a balm that aids looking, I use it to allure and appall at the same time, in the way that evil itself often does.

 

 

Such pictures are a chill breeze from nowhere, reminders that, outside Hollywood, evil is baffling yet material, and that superficial loveliness, evil's sometime raiment, must never be thought redeeming nor mistaken for evil's antidote.