Mischling 1996

Painting self portrait
Oil on canvas
56 x 56 cm

This non objective self portrait is made up of a piece of Jewish Passover Matzo (unleavened bread) placed between a sliced Easter Hot Cross Bun. The Matzo represents my father’s Jewishness and the Hot cross Bun my mother’s Christianity.

My mother was a committed Methodist who preached the dictates of ‘hellfire and brimstone’ of the Old Testament; a fundamentalist with a quasi-Calvinist belief in predestination, while my father was a non-practising Jew, when it suited him. I was the product of this religiously mixed family.

In earlier life I had struggled to make meaning out of these disparate inclinations. It occurred to me that around the southern autumn equinox when the Jews celebrate Passover they eat Matzo; while at the same time Christian eat Easter Hot Cross Buns. By conflating the two I found a suitable combination of symbols to represent myself.

The Hot Cross Bun takes on a zoomorphic primeval appearance and appears to be devouring the Jewish Matzo, its raisin a dull eye set far back on the head. In formal terms the cross of the Bun is offset by the parallel lines of the Matzo. I combined both by setting them upon the squared grid of a chess board, the battleground site of that game’s struggle. The projected shadow on the board hints at the Seal of Solomon (The Star of David), but is somewhat confused – an appropriate metaphor? The layering of these varied grids within the realist image is another example of my combining modernist devices with realism.




Filed under: Art ,Paintings ,Portraits ,