COVID-19 through the eyes of the Christian zealot — « After the Rapture ».

(PAINTING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADAM DONALDSON POWELL)

AFTER THE RAPTURE.

Ascension, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm.
Ascension, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 cm.

ASCENSION.

In an instant,

the orgasmic tingling

of the Great Compassion

transmutes physicality

into crystalline Light,

thus releasing the

new-found frequency

to find completion in

the vortex of

universal vibration.

And meanwhile,

a gentle rain

falls upon the Earth;

cultivating awe and

aspiration in those

left behind.

keys

THE FUTURE IS NOW.

Just for a moment

I surreptitiously

Slip through the

Portals of your

Watery eyes and

Catch a glimpse of

The celestial encoding

Of the Matrix.

I wander

Into the light of

Eternal memory

Reverberating

The sacred mantra

Deafening my disillusionment

With the illusion of the

Labyrinth’s dead ends

And in my stupor I

Recall the last words

Of a forgotten incarnation,

Wilting as a black rose

Under a peach-coloured

Sky – cloudless and still –

A mere heartbeat

Beyond time;

Echoing its low-grade pulse

As I frantically

Run up and down the

Alleys of La Recoleta

Trying to dodge the raindrops.

And just as you speak

I find myself on my hands and

Knees facing my epitaph:

“Posterus est iam”,

And quite uncontrollably, a single

Teardrop overflows the

Pocket of my left eye as I

Recapture our own

Generic moment in

Shared space and time.

Ascension.
Ascension.

PAVANE: un poème pour la fin des temps.

There is nothing more beautiful

And yet so sorrowful as

A man’s tears over humiliation

And loss, cradled in the bosom

Of a woman.

Uncontrollable sobbing —

A torrential rainfall

Recalling a wilderness

Landscape unashamedly seeking

Refuge from gushing winds

And rapids, thunder and lightning

Against a purple, grey and orange

Sky – in betrayal of a lifetime of

Emotional constipation and

Affections of masculinity.

A once-graceful sylph –

Now stumbling and gasping

For breath – beckons and

Invites him to join her in

A clumsy pavane, until

The quintessential mother

Archetype manages to

Rock the fallen one back

From the crevice of

Momentary indiscretion

At the end of time,

And whimpers accede to

Retrieval of pride and

Passion in the guise of

Poetic procreation.

Graffiti at train station in Oslo.
Graffiti at train station in Oslo.

AFTER THE RAPTURE.

Spent, sweaty and out-of-breath

We lie back and

Light a single cigarette

To be shared in symbolic

Celebration after an intergalactic

Battle between brazen faith and

Foolish adventure.

My tattered wings clumsily

Tucked in between my back

And the thin Styrofoam mattress;

Your head buried in my chest

And your matted hair still wet from

Our midnight dip in the Styx.

Who would have guessed that

The heaven of our making

Would be like this? … so

Characterized by the mundane,

With intermittent interruptions

Of surrealistic struggles for

Survival: win or lose … all

Or nothing .. one day at a time.

As the moon eclipses, the last

Sight I see before I drift off

Is the withered bonsai in the

Opening of our pre-war dwelling.

A reminder of a time when

We still dared to sleep soundly;

Carefully wrapped in unencumbered

Dreams in the style of our ancestors.

foggyday

THE FOURTH HORSEMAN.

I have come to accept

the threat of the first horseman,

on his mighty white steed –

causing in me a seemingly

everlasting sense of suspicion,

caution and readiness, and

I have sadly learned to expect

the relentless ravages of

war and emotional famine

brought on by the

rider on the red horse,

and the pestilence in the

saddlebags of the black steed.

Ironically, I mostly dread

the thieving fourth horseman

who arrives each dawn

on his pale mare and

reclaims from my broken dreams

the yet unlived memories of our love.

Stop the genocide!
Stop the genocide!

THE TRIBULATION.

The globalisation of

indiscriminate violence

is multiplied to

the power of the sixes,

and the Antichrist

smiles broadly at

the cancerous spreading

of fear and perdition –

rationalized by armies of

self-proclaimed truth.

But the greatest

threat from these

soldiers of hatred

is perhaps echoed in

the pestilent apathy

which is rampant

amongst those

elements of world populace

not directly affected by

the ravages of persecution,

and whose messengers

of love and compassion

no longer dare to

speak out – for

fear of getting caught

in the crossfire.

ARMAGEDDON.

Barking dogs

have long since

gone hoarse;

the incessant

b-flat octaves

tolling from

cathedrals,

cemeteries and

city halls are the

only musical

accompaniment to

the wailing

and mutterings

of the insane and

the shell-shocked.

Black-robed and

barefoot Nazarenos

trudge aimlessly

up and down

the flooding boulevards,

streets and alleyways

in this year-long

Semana Santa;

a macabre procession

matched in passion

only by the

mega tsunamis and

super volcanic

eruptions cataclysmically

creating myriads of

Devil’s Throats

as the reddish-brown

water whirlpools

about the rubble of

once looming

skyscrapers.

Resolutely ..

I rock myself

to inner drunkenness,

quietly humming

Ravel’s Pavane pour

une Infante Défunte.

going to hell

REQUIEM.

Once fresh air is

Now pungent

With the odor of

Desiccated seashells

Picked nearly clean

By eloquent predators

And the opportunists

Who are never

Far behind them.

Perched swallows

Look on with fear

And disbelief at

Seagulls gliding, then

Careening too far

Inland, their hysterical

Laughter a parody of

A sonata appassionata

Against a now-barren

Landscape devoid of

Romanticism and

Common decency.

If one listens closely

One can hear a requiem

For a milder Age that ended

All-too-abruptly – it is

A solemn dirge describing

The endless journey of

Displaced souls desperately

Trying not to see or hear

While carefully guarding

Their most prized possession:

Hope that there is more

Meaning to be grasped

For he who holds out

Beyond the bitter end.

REDEEMING SAVIOUR.

Mesmerized by the

Anointing smile of

Christ the Redeemer

I see a muse

Slow-dancing

With an angel

To the chanting

Of a monk’s choir;

A solemn moment’s

Reprieve from a

Raging sea of cynicism.

And I cling tightly to my

Dream-state while

Tears of joy and recognition

Rock me lovingly back to

True consciousness;

Reminiscent of

Life between lives –

A moment of bliss

Recaptured.

Arbor.
Arbor.

GLORIA IN EXCÉLSIS DEO.

Gloria in excélsis Deo!

Alleluia .. Alleluia ..

Although our backs are broken,

And our wings are tattered;

Our hearts and souls

Will forever sing your praises.

There is only one God,

But the ways to You are many.

Alleluia .. Alleluia ..

Alleluia .. Alleluia ..

“AFTER THE RAPTURE” IS PART OF MY BOOK ENTITLED “RAPTURE: ENDINGS OF SPACE AND TIME”. ORDER “RAPTURE: ENDINGS OF SPACE AND TIME” AND SEVERAL OF MY OTHER BOOKS FROM CYBERWIT.NET OR AMAZON.COM

Transition beyond the Age of COVID-19

Let us face Reality. COVID-19 is not only about a virus that is out-of-control. It is all about our thinking and doing (our Consciousness) and the many consequential  challenges thereof. Our lifestyles are not compatible with the here-to-fore intrinsic natural balances on Terra. We have abused the planet, its resources which sustain us, the Animal Kingdom, and much more. The animals are fighting back on Land, Sea and Air; as is the physical Earth itself. This is our «Moment of Truth».

After having made several paintings and self-portraits about living in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have found my way back to The Plague, by Albert Camus. This is a book I read way back then (many, many decades ago). About 1/4 of my way through the English translation it occurred to me that I could combine my reading with my French and Spanish studies by reading the book in all three languages.
Well, I can tell you that finding the book in French and Spanish is not so very easy if one wishes to purchase an edition that solely has the text of the novel and not adapted versions for students that include commentary, analysis etc. Many are reading and re-reading the book in the age of COVID-19, and copies of the book are sold out everywhere. I did finally manage to find a used copy on Amazon.fr which I have ordered. I have also ordered the Spanish audible book for La Peste (The Plague). Because the audible version is telecharged I have been able to access it immediately, and I am enjoying listening to the novel. The orator speaks quickly but I can follow it well, and reading the English version chapters beforehand gives me added understanding of words that may not be in my vocabulary. When my French edition arrives in a week or two, I will be able to re-read the novel for a third time — in original French.
I usually read contemporary books in one day, but the descriptive style of Camus is the entire point of the book and it requires doing just that: bathing in the subjectivity that he creates. I have read Reader Comments on Amazon.fr regarding the book, and it is interesting to read negative comments by persons who have not read the book previously and who are dissatisfied because the action of the book is “so damned slow”. That speaks to changes in society, time management, the need for fast-moving entertainment and brevity etc. in today’s readership. But here — existentialism requires freedom from time restrictions and expectations, because you are not going anywhere (by design). One must just “Be here, now!”
In their defense, I do understand the dilemma of creating a descriptive reading experience that can be accessed on the cellphone, iPad, Kindle, on the go, in minutes inbetween meetings etc. That is why I long ago drafted and discussed and wrote about the phenomenon and what it means for writing in this day and age. I first started to develop my own writing style with those thoughts in mind in my novel “Tunnel at the End of Time”, co-written with Rick Davis:

https://adam-donaldson-powell.blog/2020/05/29/from-the-archives-the-tunnel-at-the-end-of-time/

Since then — and particularly with electronic publishing — I note that many other authors have also adapted their  writing styles to the “on the go” public.

But for me, basking once again in the existentialist style of the period of Camus, Sartre and many other favorites is a pleasant respite … a way of slowing down Time and conclusions. There are no thesis statements, conclusions after a timed build-up etc. There is only the state of existence itself … observation, without judgment or any other goal than wading through the swamp. And that corresponds quite well with my COVID-19 painting series because there my goal is precisely the same: to present a subjective glimpse of aspects of living in the Age of COVID-19. Any morals communicated are in the form of loose thoughts and impulses that hope to connect with others on an existential level.
My COVID-19 series is here:
The series is complete except for one final painting entitled “The Vaccination / The Hope”.
And it is there that I part ways with Camus, Sartre and other French Existentialists. Life may feel and appear meaningless, but it is our constant interruptions in the form of insistences of giving Life meaning that make living bearable. I will not give them up; as painful as it is to be shown time and again that Life is actually meaningless … a stage-act with no visible God directing or protecting. But Life is what it is … and it is, in part, what we make of it.
— Adam Donaldson Powell

“To be is to do”—Socrates.
“To do is to be”—Jean-Paul Sartre.
“Do be do be do”—Frank Sinatra.

 

“Coffin Portrait / Lockdown — Summer fun”, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm., 2020, the second title is perhaps self-explanatory. But it doubles as a Coffin Portrait (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_portrait). This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

 

Documenting COVID-19 through paintings

Here I am documenting COVID-19 through paintings:    

 

 

 


”COVID-19 — fini les bises à la pelle !”, oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm., 2020, is a self-portrait of myself hesitating to kiss my own death skull, and is surrounded by a ring of blue roses.

The blue roses symbolize the unattainable; here, an unfulfilled love-moment that is even too complicated to be described in words because our natural habit of performing the delicious bises à la pelle is abruptly stopped by the cold mental forewarning that “some doors should never be opened”. There is nothing to say, save perhaps “Oh, I almost forgot.” 

This is, indeed, a challenging conceptual and technical study and essay. The image of a person kissing a death skull is an age-old meme (if not a cliché). Here the twist is to play on the concept of The Picture of Dorian Gray, whereby the death skull is the mirrored image of my true Self — i.e. that part of me that always remains constant, regardless of the « accoutrements » of fashion, disposition, or aging. In the Age of COVID-19 a simple kiss on the cheek can become the shovel that digs our own grave… Indeed we must all face our own Death, with eyes open or shut. And yet Death finds meaning only against the background of Life, though measured in mere years or breaths. Just as Light has no significance without shadow or Darkness, we cannot live Life fully being afraid of Death. On ne peut pas vivre en ayant peur de mourir …

In the immortal words of John Donne:

Death, be not proud

BY JOHN DONNE

Death, be not proud,

though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful,

for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more;

Death, thou shalt die.

 

 

 

“La mort rappelle une vie passée”, 60 x 80 cm., huile sur toile, 2020.

 

“La mort rappelle une vie passée”, 60 x 80 cm., huile sur toile, 2020. Voici un nouvel autoportrait, qui est surprenant, puissant et bizarre. Il présente la mort — symbolisée par un crâne. Ètonnamment, le crâne ouvre sa fermeture éclair pour révéler sa dernière incarnation … c’est “moi”, bien sûr.

“Death recalls a past life”, 60 x 80 cm., Oil on canvas, 2020. Here is a new self-portrait, which is surprising, powerful and bizarre. It presents death – symbolized by a skull. Surprisingly, the skull opens its zipper to reveal its latest incarnation… it’s “me”, of course.

 

 

“Corona: In the Eye of the Storm (We Can’t Breathe)”, oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm.

“Corona: In the Eye of the Storm (We Can’t Breathe!)”, oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm. This raw, mechanical, and spontaneous painting portrays: “A naked eye — whose hopeful eyelashes have long since been singed away — strives to peer out of the cotton bedding with which the enclave’s psychic environment is upholstered. The dizzied prisoner of this padded cell is searching for grounding; but the floor is in a constant state of movement, change, and insecurity. It is an asylum and is thus meant to keep us locked inside … as much as to keep outside the World. We cannot escape The News, the media, the opportunists, the fear, the meme, the boredom … or our own futility in trying to forever hold off the inevitable. And the written warning scrawled in Day-Glo Green resonates and resounds in the most powerful and succinct language possible: QUARANTINE!

 

 

Roll of the dice: The dilemma of losing our sense of touch, 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. COVID-19 can affect our senses, notably the sense of taste and the sense of smell. But avoiding the virus also entails restrictions upon another important sense: that of touch. Scientific study indicates that affectionate touches can affect the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, thus reducing the release of stress hormones while bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves that are linked with relaxation. This self-portrait (my sixteenth) is a commentary on the dilemma of avoiding touch, an activity which we sorely need in order to boost our life quality, our sense of well-being and our ability to maintain a strong immune system. We take chances with a mental roll of the dice: “Does this person have COVID-19, or not? I need to give and receive handshakes and hugs. But do I dare do so … or not?!!”

Roll of the dice: The dilemma of losing our sense of touch, 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. COVID-19 can affect our senses, notably the sense of taste and the sense of smell. But avoiding the virus also entails restrictions upon another important sense: that of touch. Scientific study indicates that affectionate touches can affect the nervous system’s rest and digest mode, thus reducing the release of stress hormones while bolstering the immune system, and stimulating brainwaves that are linked with relaxation. This self-portrait (my sixteenth) is a commentary on the dilemma of avoiding touch, an activity which we sorely need in order to boost our life quality, our sense of well-being and our ability to maintain a strong immune system. We take chances with a mental roll of the dice: “Does this person have COVID-19, or not? I need to give and receive handshakes and hugs. But do I dare do so … or not?!!” The handshake doubles as hands being constantly cleaned with disinfectant (the most popular Norwegian brand being AntiBac), and the self-portrait is in complete darkness. The study of Light reflection in the bottle, and the negative light/shading in the cat-like curious yet restrained eyes were also challenging… as well as the sickly pink polka dots, which symbolize the COVID-19 virus cluster model wantonly spreading in a surrealistic background gives a psychedelic and psychological effect.

 

 

“Coffin Portrait / Lockdown — Summer fun”, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm., 2020, the second title is perhaps self-explanatory. But it doubles as a Coffin Portrait (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_portrait). This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

 

Vanishing Act, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020.

«Vanishing Act», 46 x 55 cm., oil on canvas, 2020, is a raw self-portrait about being careful what we wish for. While many would wish for the rapid disappearance of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19), it would presently seem more plausible that such reference is most applicable to the Fade-Out Star (R Coronae Borealis). In the upper left corner, one can barely make out a vanishing star, consumed by the Darkness of Uncertainty — truly Hell in its most natural form. The raw background hints of that in many well-known paintings by Old Masters, but here there is a messy disharmony that is threatening to consume the figure in the painting and the viewer — like an unavoidable train wreck … in slow motion. There are many important lessons yet to be learned from the COVID-19 experience. It is karmic, and in that understanding lies a solace that enables us to adapt to both life during struggle … and to the inevitability of Death. The figure — itself already vanishing behind protective gear — is waist-deep in the mire, but is yet optimistic — if not aloof to the dangers of chance and folly. The true challenge is perhaps not how quickly or how completely we can return to normality, but whether the former normality is actually the problem itself.

 

 

“Masquerade: COVID-19”, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020, is self-explanatory at first glance. However, here I have left certain features slightly unfinished: the naked eyes, the disintegrating painted frame etc.; this to suggest vulnerability and a sense of incompletion. COVID-19 presents the unanswerable questions of how effective we really are at masking fear of the unknown, and which “me” peers out from behind the superficial protective covering. This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

“Masquerade: COVID-19”, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm., 2020, is self-explanatory at first glance. However, here I have left certain features slightly unfinished: the naked eyes, the disintegrating painted frame, etc.; this to suggest vulnerability and a sense of incompletion. COVID-19 presents the unanswerable questions of how effective we really are at masking fear of the unknown, and which “me” peers out from behind the superficial protective covering. This painting is a continuation of my self-portrait series, in which I explore different ways of seeing and presenting myself — with various styles and painting techniques.

 

 

Winds of Hell, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas.

«Winds of Hell», 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas. “Les vents de l’Enfer”, 65 x 90 cm., Huile sur toile; basé sur les six faces par lesquelles nous percevons la mort — La mort en tant qu’ennemi, La mort en tant qu’étranger, La mort en tant qu’ami, La mort en tant que mère, La mort en tant que voleur et La mort en tant qu’amant. 💀💀💀💀💀💀 Writing about Death is not foreign to me, but I have only approached the theme once before in my paintings. Thus, I have made a new painting about Death (which for we who survive others becomes a personal Hell for a time). And regardless of how we see Death, the Hell of loss is still there gnawing away at us … underneath the masks we put on to shield ourselves and others in our grief. 💀💀💀💀💀💀

 

Here is my first painting about Death:

Soul evacuation, oil on canvas, 100x150x8 cm.

Soul evacuation, oil on canvas, 100x150x8 cm.

 

 

«Secundo fluctus» (Second Wave):

«Secundo fluctus» (Second Wave), 60 x 50 cm., oil on canvas, 2020. The theme of this self-portrait is the impossible dream that is never finally achieved — no matter how much success we or others may think we have achieved, the dissatisfaction is always there. That has been the plight of most artists throughout human history; and it is no less today — for artists, and for non-artists. The tremendous Saturn-influence enveloping us at this time insists upon the renewal of our dreams, our motives, our ways of seeing, acting, living … imposing a heavy reality check upon us all. It is not all negative from an overall perspective, but it takes a higher degree of ingenuity, creativity, and persistence in order to create the much-needed and long-overdue New Consciousness. This dark expressionist self-portrait entitled “Second Wave”, provides a subjective inside-looking-out acknowledgment of the present experience. The intention is to document the thick muddy gelé of fear + careful hopefulness that we are all enduring in this Winter of darkness. The observant viewer will note that the face is itself a mask, as is the masking Darkness.

 

 

Painting: Oil on Canvas. « Shadow » – 影, 65 x 90 cm., oil on canvas, is a black-grey-white over-sized portrait-study aiming at depicting deep thinking. The semi-realistic style aims for simplicity and shadow play, with a minimum of detail and light. The focal point of the exaggerated eye serves as a portal into the Inner Self. The darkness provides a sense of intimacy, privacy, secrecy and protection. There is solace in the shadow.

 

 

“Wanted: for breaking the rules of Art and Writing!” (with premonition of The Mask), self-portrait, 65×90 cm., oil on canvas, 2020