Terrance Lindall: Paradise Lost Scroll
The contemporary artist of pop-surrealism Terrance Lindall, after a too long, nearly 20-year break as a curator, has returned to his first love, producing art, with the unveiling of his recent Paradise Lost Scroll, an artwork 14 inches high and over 4 feet long. Mr. Lindall has recently sent me an email announcing the artwork's release and giving permission to blog about it. I'll let the details be provided by the press release from the Yuko Nii Foundation at the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center:
Terrance Lindall in his year long celebration of John Milton's 400th birthday, which started on December 8, 2008, has just completed as of December 8, 2009, what is considered by the few who have seen it already to be the most unusual painting for Milton's Paradise Lost ever done. It is in the form of a scroll that reads from right to left like a Torah.As is perfectly fitting for an interpretation of the 'unorthodox' Milton, Lindall's painting depicts an 'unorthodox' felix culpa Christianity -- a God whose mercy extends even to Satan himself for the role that this arch-fallen angel played in the divine economy of salvation! Although this soteriological possibility is largely foreign to Western Christendom, Eastern Orthodoxy has a tradition of prayers to God for the redemption of Satan himself . . . though whether Lindall was following this tradition or the consequences of his own thinking, I know not.
The scroll is (see below) is now in the Milton collection at the Yuko Nii Foundation. It contains one of Lindall's "complete" versions of PL. It is 14 inches high with 24 K (23.75) gold illuminated miniature inset paintings plus many other cartouches of the Bodleian Library, the Visionary Foal, Milton dictating, Nemo's submarine, etc.
The scroll begins with the great omniscient eye of God in the upper right hand corner. In the iris of the eye reads "THE WORD." Below the eye is the Tree of Life, roots extending upwards with a bird of paradise perched atop. The Tree of Life becomes a vine that twines across the bottom of the scroll. The upper portion of the scroll contains the miniature paintings depicting scenes from Milton's epic. The bottom part is the text that is only to be read as captions, not complete Miltonic quotes.
The opening panel shows an angel wrestling with a snake over the Garden of Eden and piercing the serpent with his sword. The angel and serpent are in the form of a cloud and the sword piercing the serpent delivers gold lighting bolts . . . portending the tragedy that is to come.
At the bottom in the next panel Milton is dictating Paradise Lost to his daughter, giving birth to the serpent with a burst of flame from his forehead like Athena from the head of Zeus or Sin from the head of Satan. A bottle is pouring forth a stream water that symbolizes the purity of God's Spirit or God's "Historical Will." It flows throughout the panels beneath the Pillars of the Universe. The water also represents Milton's reputation which starts off small and by the 19th century becomes an ocean in which we see Captain Nemo's 19th Century submarine Nautilus. Nemo is somewhat like Satan, rebelling against what he perceives as the injustice of a greater power.
There is a mysterious winged creature riding the Visionary Foal at the bottom of the panels. The Visionary Foal is an aspect of the omniscient God. At the end of the scroll we see who the mystery rider is: it is none other than Satan himself who has been performing God's work. He has been redeemed because God has used him to seduce Adam and Eve so God could actualize his Divine Grace and Mercy by having His alter ego, His Son, sacrifice Himself and take the sins of Adam & Eve back upon himself. God's mercy is not perfect if it is not actualized, and Satan has helped actualize (perfect) it by rebellion and seduction thus initiating God's perfect mercy. But God's Mercy being infinite, God has also redeemed Satan who leans back upon the Heavenly Foal in the next to last panel. Satan is back to Satan's former self, no longer ruined. A rainbow, the promise of God, over Cavalry Hill confirms the redemption or promise of His Perfect Mercy.
The last panel is a library with a Benedictine monk named Wickenheiser holding a book. Wickenheiser is the Universal Librarian, maintaining the records of Man's great thoughts and works recorded in books, especially those of John Milton. The vaulted ceiling of the library becomes a stairway composed of books leading up to the second coming of Christ surrounded by Apostles and the learned men Davinci, Plato, Socrates, Newton and others. Knowledge, forbidden by God to Adam & Eve as a test of their obedience to Goodness, has been vindicated and redeemed for and through Man by God's Grace. Note that another bottle of water on Wickenheiser's library table pours the spirit of God's Will and Milton's reputation back into the scroll the opposite way from the bottle at Milton's feet. It represents the fact that by Wickenheiser's building of the great Milton collection Wickenheiser has sustained, preserved and reestablished Milton's reputation until the end of time.
In the upper left hand corner of the scroll, the great eye of God has closed! "I am the Alpha and Omega, I am the Beginning and the End," so sayeth the Lord, "I am the Almighty." Thus, as God opens the universe with His Great Eternal Eye and THE WORD, He also closes His Great Eternal Eye at the end of time, and nothing more is perceived about our universe!
About Lindall's philosophy: he adheres to the precept "esse est percipi" (per George Bishop Berkeley). There is no proof that anything exists outside of perception or idea. Even today, physicists have come to the conclusion that the subbasement to the "material universe" is composed of "events." Events are things perceived. As Leibnitz, the inventor of the infinitesimal calculus, explains, "we are all aspects (thoughts) of the mind of God." Thus the great eye of God in my art and the large eye of the Visionary Foal represent Perceptions in the Mind of God. All is Perception; all is God. There is much more to Lindall's philosophy, but that explains a point in his scroll. For further reading on Lindall's philosophy: [see here].
The Yuko Nii Foundation is working with Dr. Robert J. Wickenheiser to produce full-scale facsimiles of this scroll. The facsimiles will come with options for the collector:
1) Signed by Terrance Lindall with a signed letter from Robert Wickenheiser explaining the work and authenticating the facsimile. Bound in leather with gold tooling and die (from the Schunke collection) stamped (gold) with the coat of arms of Katherine of Aragon. The painting will have a silk protective covering. Facsimile will be on paper or vellum, per choice of collector. This is a very high-end limited edition and can be ordered through Robert Wickenheiser or directly from the Yuko Nii Foundation. These are produced one at a time and only a very limited number will be done.
2) Various levels of printed reproduction and various bindings or no binding.
By integrating Dr. Wickenheiser into the painting, Lindall harkens back to a high Renaissance practice of including the artwork's patron into the work of art itself, but Lindall does so in a humorous manner by representing Wickenheiser in the garb of a Benedictine monk, as seen in the panel above.
For a viewing of the entire scroll, albeit panel by panel, go to the You Tube site for a nearly 10-minute presentation to the accompaniment of Frédéric Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-Sharp Minor.