30 January 2015

The Artist as Soldier as Egon Schiele as St Sebastian

12" x 16", oil on wood panel, 2014

There is an age-old tradition of presenting St. Sebastian as a symbol of the artist himself, suffering the pangs of artistic creation; the execution of the saint is a homonym for the execution of the work of art and the death of the saint symbolizes its completion. Ever since the early Renaissance Sebastian's arrows have symbolized the painter's brushes, pointing inwards, penetrating him, conveying the idea that "every painter paints himself." 

Egon Schiele's Self Portrait as St. Sebastian from 1914-15 (the very obvious basis for my painting here) fits perfectly within my World War One painting project, having been painted around the outset of WWI. Putting myself into the painting symbolizes the completion of my 100-piece project and serves as yet another memento mori: the inscription making reference to the fact that, even in Arcadia (i.e. the safety of my studio) one day I, too, will die.

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