top of page

Picture Spotlight

Current Spotlight - "Test of Faith"

What can an Artist actually say about a test of faith?


In this Painting I explore  the gene pool of human beings, knowing that some have a religious experience of it and others who hold opposite views. Indeed, there does seem to be an intellectual diaspora of values, ideas, and principles that accompany this. So this isn't me just going off on a tangent it is me trying to register a different  opinion about how the medium of Painting can answer for its misdemeanours by perhaps shedding some light on the subject of surviving any test to the 'human condition'.


In order to tackle this I am going to start at the epi-centre of a Painter's life: trying to explain humanity by the Painter him/herself having his/her faith tested without all the indulgences that make life easier. This Painting gives no quarter, takes a life for a life in all the brutal primordial soup of early apes and shows the bitter struggle to survive (not always a quality that Painters are known for). It depicts evolving forms of ape in anger, horror, hunger and fear. In this primordial soup, there is a very definite anti-social form in the desperate acts of competing for the very oxygen let alone primitive forms of hunting and killing. But, here's the thing we humans share 96% of our gene pool with chimps, and these scenes seem too hauntingly familiar for comfort. These images seem like gargoyles sent into our present day to warn us of what we are capable of and what we still do to each other in one form or another.


As an Artist I believe that there are two ways of making the most of our mortal coil: the brave Darwin who was traumatized by his scientific discoveries (especially as it put his religious faith into question)  but selflessly challenged hitherto religious explanation, or you can be compliant and submissive like Galileo was to the Vatican centuries before.


But science can open up religious understanding too. Imagine if the biblical account of the fall from the garden of Eden was God's way of euphemizing the terrible reality of brutal evolution, a contemporary view of the tree of knowledge where man is ‘driven’ to secularisation and is punished for it by God. If that is true then one non-heretical explanation would be that he did so to protect us from our baser instincts, until we as a society could process evolution with greater maturity? Like these figures in this Painting show, there isn't any developed sense of 'love' when we resort to our forbear's absence of compassion and faith. To evolve individually surely we have to enjoy all the gifts that God has given Man that are perhaps more of the Garden of Eden here than we appreciate.


This Painting was originally a seascape Painting that I was inspired to Paint 30 years ago, when I was living and working in and near Barcelona. The original also has a refusal to yield, and a resistance to the temptation of power. A lifetime away in one sense but an inspiration to me and n identification with those who can’t put their brushes and paints away just because it would be easier to do so. Painting has offered me a great deal, I just hope I can manage to properly reciprocate.

Stephen Hornsby-Smith
bottom of page