Temptation is a modern interpretation of one of Christ’s trials, as a human being. In Matthew, Luke, and Mark it is written that Christ, after being baptized is led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, where he fasts for forty days and forty nights. It is during this time that he is visited by the devil and tempted three times. The tempter came to him and urged him to change a stone to bread; in a twist of scripture, to fall from the cliff so that angels would have to catch him; and offered all the Kingdoms of the world and their glory, if he falls and worships the devil. It has been stated by religious art critics that what is missing from modern pictures of Christ is that they do not explore Christ as a human being. Temptation in the Desert attempts to not only show one of Christ’s trials as a human being but also attempts to show the first epic battle with satan in Christ’s physical form. The work shows Christ’s ability to defeat the devil while staying heroic and human, never relying on his messianic powers. The piece leaves the viewer confused. At this one moment, we are led to experience the image in an almost hallucinogenic way through the eyes of someone who has not eaten in 40 days, the battle between good and evil, and Christ’s prophecy.

The piece must be studied to reveal subtle symbols and concepts. The viewer is asked to step into Christ’s vision where he sees that people will look to false sources of power before God. Trees become demons, clouds become the Kingdom of the World, and the rocks in the desert become the people he must die to save. The rose growing out of Christ’s chest represents the five wounds suffered during crucifixion, the presence and miracle of God, and the blood of Christian martyrs. The capital building represents our society, to whom we look for our needs to be met, fragile as clouds, weakened by temptation.

Like the rock he holds, Christ knows that without his personal sacrifice, his people will be nothing more than soulless stones.
© 2011 Christopher Ruane Photography & Fine Art.  All Rights Reserved.
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