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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Now in Tel Aviv: Stations of the Cross painted by Joseph Capelle of South Africa

TEL AVIV – South African artist Joseph Capelle painted the Stations of the Cross that hang in the Our Lady Woman of Valor Pastoral Center in south Tel Aviv. We can pray reflecting on each station.

Stations of the Cross
Joseph Capelle (South Africa)

These paintings are intentionally two dimensional. I like to think of them as modern day icons. The surface area is very important to me, so I use flat colors, textured areas, hard edge and line.
Faces are the main form of expression and are very often painted in unnatural colors, depending on the mood that I wish to create in the station. The colors I use are my own expression of emotion.
My hope is that viewers will develop their own interpretations on each station and will thus be able to deepen their meditation.
Some of the images will shock but I am hoping that this will lead to a deeper understanding of the redemptive suffering of Jesus.

1. Jesus is condemned to death


Jesus listens as Pilate condemns him to death. The cross is already part of his being and fits into the building behind him.
Pilate looks down on Jesus. He is shown as being uncertain of the guilt of Jesus and washes his hands to distance himself from the condemnation. He is dressed in a flamboyant outfit while Jesus is humbly attired.
The face in the middle represents the crowd condemning Jesus.

2. Jesus takes up His cross


Jesus cries out in pain as the cross is roughly placed on his shoulders.
The spirit-like figure above Jesus is a symbol that humanity is released from their sins as he takes up his cross.
The abusive face on the right represents the crowd following the proceedings.

3. Jesus falls the first time

Jesus stumbles and falls.
The burning city in the back ground represents what falling, sinful humanity has inflicted upon itself.
But Jesus will rise again and mankind’s redemption will be assured.

4. Jesus meets his mother


A moment of extreme grief and pain.
Against a tumultuous background, Jesus looks down at his grieving mother as she reaches out to comfort him. Red spikes pierce the body of Jesus as a symbol of his extreme physical and emotional pain.

5. Simon helps Jesus carry His cross


On the left, Jesus comes out of the dark, greatly relieved by the assistance of Simon.
Jesus looks up to his Father in thanksgiving, still offering up his cross for the sins of the world.
On the right, Simon, in his own world, is uncomprehending yet he accepts the cross. The cross is suggested by the non-figurative shapes between the figures.

6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus


Veronica, wearing a frivolous head scarf, impulsively rushes out of the crowd and wipes the exhausted face of Jesus. She had not originally intended to be involved but this was an act of love. The cloth seems to almost hang on his face as the image is imprinted.

7. Jesus falls the second time


Jesus violently crashes against an object on the side of the road. At the top, an angry soldier shouts abuse, because by falling, Jesus is wasting his time.
Jesus looks up in agony, his hand reaches out to try and brake the fall. Non-figurative shapes, like spikes, pierce his face, to show the violence of the fall.

8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem


The women look in shock and horror at Jesus carrying his cross. They represent women of different race groups and positions in society. Jesus’ face shows the exhaustion of what he is experiencing but he still feels concern for these women.

9. Jesus falls a third time


Jesus crashes to the ground and all the flurry of shapes and colors have a strong downward thrust.
The two faces at the top right, represent the people of the world in sharp altercation, needing the teaching of Jesus and his redemptive sacrifice.
The painting tries to convey that we should follow his example and pick ourselves up and not be overcome by adversity.

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments


Jesus is so violently stripped of his garments that all the wounds of the scourging are reopened. The indignity of this public humiliation shows on his face.
The cross passes through Jesus, signifying his acceptance of the situation.
On the right of the painting, a fully clothed figure, with hood, mask and veil, emphasizes our ability; to hide behind a facade, while Jesus has no means of hiding his nakedness.

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross


I chose not to show the actual nailing to the cross, only the face of Jesus showing the extreme violence of this moment, when he cries out in agony as the nails are driven into his hands and feet. The sharp spikes, crisscrossing the painting are an expression of his extreme pain.
At the top left, the sky has turned a fiery red, at this outrage. On the top right, are two faces, the first a prisoner, bound up with wire, symbolizing humanity, a prisoner of their sins and the second is blind folded, a symbol of those who are blind to religion and to Jesus, both will be set free from their sins by his sacrifice.

12. Jesus dies on the cross


The scene is set against an extremely dramatic sky. The sun, shown as a black disc, represents the three hours of darkness at the death of Jesus. In the back ground the destruction of the Temple is shown, representing the misunderstanding of the people that it was the Temple that would be destroyed and not the body of Jesus. The pink lighting and the pink spike though the body of Jesus link this misunderstanding with his statement: “Destroy this Temple and it will be rebuilt in three days” (John 2:19).
The grieving face of Mary is shown at the bottom right of the painting.

13 Jesus is taken down from the cross


Mary holds the broken body of her Son. A veil is draped over one side of her face in an attempt to hide her grief. His face shows exhaustion but also the quiet relief of a mission fulfilled.
The red line over his body is to indicate the suffering he has endured.
In the background are his empty cross and a suggestion of the world and all the crosses that have to be carried by suffering mankind.

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb


Jesus lies in the tomb. A great sun like object hangs over him, an indication of the resurrection which will take place shortly.
Outside the tomb a guard stands with a sly grin on his face, totally oblivious to the event that is about to take place.

15. Jesus rises from the dead


This painting represents the first moment of resurrection; the eyes of Jesus are wide open and see, not just worldly light but the light of heaven. His mouth is open to his first breath. The bright yellow halo not only surrounds his head but passes through his face.
At the left is a graphic depiction of a rising sun. At the bottom, death is conquered and curls up and dies.

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