Cain

21 May to 9 June 2014
Despard Gallery, Hobart Tasmania

Black to the heart and calcined to the bone
with love that desolates and fills no sphere,
The barren love that holds the sole self dear,
Which makes the hell wherein it reigns alone;
So wanders Cain till self to self is grown,
A spectre which, in flying, he falls sheer -
Bowed to God's all-consuming breath -
A mere dumb sacrifice on Abel's altar-stone.

Then lo, the cloud that darkened all his day
And hid the watchful angel of God's love,
The angel's stormy hand has rent away;
Pure light of life beats on him from above,
Cool tears of dawn make soft his hardened clay,

And heal the frenzied heart God's lightnings rove.

These are the closing verses of a 19th Century poem by Emily Pfeiffer.  The biblical story of Cain and Abel was the starting point for this series of paintings and works on paper.  Cain continues an ongoing exploration of ideas of incompletion, brokenness and hope, and the way the qualities of paint can mirror the vulnerability of the human experience.

Rather than directly pictorialising the story of Cain and Abel, these paintings draw from a visual language used previously in my work to consider the poetry of this ancient, but still relevant story.

Jo Chew 2014