Theodicy Revisited - The Problem of Suffering
The work represented Finland in the exhibition of Art RAIN and AIJA in Valencia, Spain in November 2005,
executed in July-October 2005, about 210 x 160 cm altogether, oil on canvas; by kind Episcopal approval, received into the collection of Sofia (see www.kulttuurikeskussofia.fi) after my exhibition New and Old Wine there on 1.9.-29.11.2012; at the exhibition opening on 1 September 2012, the amazing thing happened that the Eye of God started to shed tears upon the Suffering of the World, the three panels below! - please scroll down for an explanation of the work
This œuvre was executed in the summer and autumn of 2005. On first sight, the work displays the portico or fašade of a Greek temple - on the other hand, it can also be seen as an arrow pointing straight upwards. Let me explain why!
The top part of the pentatych displays the Eye of God in a fashion common to much of Christian art - the triune Godhead is shown in utter majesty, splendour and power - no wonder that part of the work is called Limitless Power. The middle part of the work, a triptych in its own right, displays the progression of Evil in time - hence the form of a traditional triptych, like a comic strip - from an innocent and even bright beginning of 'seeing things in a slightly different manner' via the 'sunshine' (or rather suction) of Evil in the middle to utter darkness at the right with the last 'light' disappearing to the top. In the midst of unnatural and gory colours, all that is left is a heart squeezed of its contents by the spirals of what remains of an Ionian capital symbolizing reason.
In the bottom part of the work, we immediately recognize Christ lying in His tomb, crucified, powerless and helpless, looking at us. The Eyes of Evil are gloating over Him in victory and so it seems that the work ends in despair.
But does it? Scripture says that 'the folly of God is greater than man's wisdom and the weakness of God greater than man's strength' (1.Cor.1:25). Lying suspended between folly and reason, symbolized by the evil eyes and the Ionian capitals, respectively, Christ lies looking at us, looking at me. Even in His death, He is alive, with a greater-than-imaginable identification with our weaknesses and sins. In this colourful painting, Christ literally carries even my sin in His body, symbolised by the pierced and sick heel (a symbol that you will find used elsewhere in these pages). Stepping into the human condition, yes, being in it, with a seemingly far-away almighty God and with Evil triumphing in the world, the Son of God intently looks at the viewer of the work and is thus connected to him/her. A total identification with us; there is even a request for help, it seems.
- Behold the humility of the Son of God!
Why then is the work called El SÚptimo Cielo; Theodicy Revisited (the name of the work in Spain)? Theodicy is the traditional term for the problem of Evil; God is good and omnipotent, yet, Evil exists and even seems to reign in the world. As seen in the text above, the work clearly treats this theme - but whence then The Seventh Heaven?! Although seemingly swallowed up by the Triumph of Evil, in His weakness, Christ in fact triumphs over Evil in His Love for us - even in His extreme agony, He creates a bridge towards us. We are brought to the brink of the Mystery of Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". Thus, even though especially the lower part of the work is full of pain and agony, the whole structure of the work in fact as an arrow pointing upwards and outwards, even to the Seventh Heaven, from the perspective of which God indeed works all to the very best of those who love Him, a love that we have because He has first loved us.
Thus it is that the whole work is in fact a Temple of God - hence the fašade of a Greek temple; even suffering and the seeming triumph of evil pointing towards an omnipotent, loving God and His mysterious purposes.
in the Palazzo Covero, on the 29th December, 2009, on the Day of the Remembrance of the 14,000 child victims of Bethlehem killed by king Herod