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edition of 11
|For over a millennium, thousands of artists, including Rodin and Michelangelo, have portrayed the story of the Garden of Eden with images of Eve being seduced with an apple from the Tree of Knowledge and then corrupting Adam. Many of the depictions show the guilt, shame, and remorse of their expulsion. The usual themes consist of temptation, transgression, and punishment.|
However, the Loss of Paradise with an emphasis on grief and the accompanying longing to reclaim the blissful state of Eden, would be another possible interpretation of the Biblical metaphor. I've tried to present Adam and Eve through the prism of the latter and rarely depicted emphasis. Here's why. At times in our lives, most of us tend to experience a persistent if fluid craving; a longing that is intermittent but chronic in nature, that often shifts its focus and is occasionally satisfied but in a way that can rarely be sustained.
The existentialists believed this enduring angst to be at the core of Being. Eric Fromm saw the universal angst in terms of Human Evolution; that with consciousness came the loss of being in unconscious harmony with nature. As a psychologist, I believe this longing also comes from our own personal "expulsion from paradise", from our own loss, as infants, of that merged state when there was no separation between us and the secure embrace of a mother's arms; no separation from her breast and the feel of her skin, from her warmth and smell and voice. Once, we were in a kind of Eden, "at one with all the world", and it was bliss. Then the at-one-ness was lost and the longing followed.
Whatever its origins, there are an infinite variety of ways in which we try to recapture some essence of Eden. The pursuit of wealth, fame, and other forms of victory, or the misuse of alcohol, sex, music, and drugs; all these can temporarily give us an intimation of the original, blissful state. In a more sustainable way, so can a strong identification with community, a spiritual practice, or having a partner who loves and accepts you. But the underlying pull almost always reasserts itself.
These then are the sorts of musings that have informed my rendering of the two figures. By using the metaphor of expulsion from Eden, I've tried to personify two versions of this experience of acute loss and chronic yearning.
Artwork and Images Copyright 2003 Robert Cantor - All Rights Reserved
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