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In the Frame for July 2011: Peter Richardson’s ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Satan’

This month’s In the Frame is written by a work experience student who was recently with us, and highlights a pair of pictures drawn by the artist Peter Richardson.

Jesus Christ’ and ‘Satan’, depicted below in two drawings, made with graphite pencil by Peter Richardson, show two biblical opposites, intriguingly represented without sufficiently obvious visual clues to adequately distinguish one from the other. At first, this suggested to me that perhaps the artist saw the differences between ‘good and evil’ (represented here by Jesus and Satan) as non-descript and insubstantial. The artist seems to enforce this by using similar human forms on which each composition is based.

However, on closer inspection, the differences between the two drawings become more apparent. First of all, Richardson uses an additional yellow pencil with the graphite in his drawing of ‘Jesus Christ’ which adds more light and detail to the image, especially as it is only applied on the body of the figure. This contrasts with the transparency of the body of ‘Satan’ and perhaps shifts emphasis onto the illuminated form of Christ. In addition to this, ‘Jesus Christ’ is decorated with a halo, further acknowledging the associations with godliness and light.

The drawing of ‘Satan’, by contrast, has been overlaid with lines which mark out a cloak and horns - a stereotypical and characteristic representation of ‘Satan’, and therefore evil.

It seems to me that an important theme in these drawings is support. This is shown by Christ’s elevation as he seems to be suspended a small distance above the floor. ‘Satan’, on the other hand, is firmly grounded and, in addition to this, seems to be leaning heavily against a wall. This is perhaps an allusion to the support needed by the artist when in a particularly difficult and evil part of his life.

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