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Marc Mulders: Apocalypse

Marc Mulders: Apocalypse

Apocalypse, a Lament with a Happy End
by Marc Mulders
The apocalyptical literature has been of great importance in the history of the Jewish-Christian-Islamic tradition, as convictions like the resurrection from the dead, the day of judgement, heaven and hell are all made explicit in it.
The Apocalypse is written by the apostle John around 90 A.D. (or possibly earlier) on the island of Patmos, where he received a vision, a revelation, in which Jesus ordered him to write seven letters to seven communities of faith weighed down by Roman oppression.
It is a text about the destruction of the world, the end of history and the return of Jesus who will, as it were, establish heaven on earth. One is almost tempted to speak about a virtual world, for John writes that in this beautiful new world no sun or moonlight will be necessary, because God will illuminate everything simply by his presence. By painting these paradisiacal vistas the writer offered hope to the oppressed Christians. For many pages John goes on to tell about death and decay, sorrow and misery. On each page the darkness increases, but at the end there is a shimmer of light, the prospect of a new beginning. This makes this story written for people around the year 90 into a story for every later generation, telling about the ageless victory of good over evil.

In many cultures narratives can be found about the fall of mankind into pride and greed. In the Apocalypse a downward spiral is described ending in payback day: on the day of judgement all human beings will be weighed on the scales of justice. Having done wrong one will stagger to hell, having lived a life of love one will fly like a butterfly to the light, to heaven. In the Bible and also in the Koran judgement is founded upon each one’s book of life, in which all one’s good and evil deeds have been summed up.

Nowadays the A-word is frequently used in the media to read recent alarming events, from the brutal attack in Norway to the lootings in London, from volcano eruptions, mud streams, hurricanes and weather demons suddenly darkening rock and dance festivals to the black Mondays on the stock market due to the euro crisis. In all of this confusion across the world it is good, I believe, to once again print and spread the text of Revelation in its entirety. Maybe we will recognize that we need to set our shoulders to the wheel for the earth to remain liveable.

The biblical text is illuminated here with ‘miniatures’ that do not so much attempt to clarify the text itself, but rather want to give a ‘melody’ to the lament of the Apocalypse. For it certainly is a lament, be it one with a happy end, as at the end there is that vista of paradise on earth, of a heavenly Jerusalem. Rays of sunlight!

In the Apocalypse evil is positioned over against good. Evil I try to capture in somewhat scary, staged still lifes, for which I combine cut-outs with mushrooms, calyxes, snails, insects and the remains of animal skeletons gathered from the woods around my studio. Good I portray in images of flower hearts with backlighting and sun rays that come from elsewhere, from above.

In Matthew 16:1-4 we read that the Pharisees and the Sadducees came to test Jesus by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. But he answered them: ‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times?’
The images are pages and photos in the large paged paperback/magazine: Marc Mulders: Apokalyps, de Openbaring van Johannes in de Willibrord vertaling van 1978, Boekencentrum – Zoetermeer, 2012, 84 pages, € 6,95. 
Marc Mulders (1958) is a Dutch painter, photographer and glass artist. He is especially known for his oil paintings in which he follows the course of nature. He has made stained-glass windows for the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam and for the Sint Jan Cathedral in Den Bosch. His work is included in the collections of 18 Dutch museums.
ArtWay Visual Meditation January 15, 2012