The KP (Knighton) Triptych
As a man who has roamed around this world with an endless sense of curiosity for more than forty years and even if that equates to two full score years – it is not even but a blink of the eye within the mysteries of time. But, such a time has been long enough for me to learn that I am nothing other than an empty vessel floating in a sea of ideas and possibilities. I have been considering and wrestling with these ideas and possibilities all my life.
In some respects, these ideas and possibilities have become my only allies in a fast shifting and often-unfathomable world. I have garnered few satisfactory answers to my questioning. Despite all my soul searching and endless analysis of why things are the way they are – I remain unsure of certainties.
However, I know that my soul is a vessel that is still yearning to drink its fill of all things possible. Of all that these perennial ideas and possibilities present to man and his understanding – I take much succour from all that mother earth has to offer. It is my endless searching for ‘truth’ that keeps me intrigued in all and everything – it is the very breath of life.
I hope perhaps that in some small way my own modest efforts on the creative front will give the viewer something to someone somewhere. Who knows? One can but hope. My art might just even promote in the viewer cause for further intelligent discussion about the narrative I hope to trigger in the metaphorical ideas that I aim to portray. And, to stimulate further thought for all of those, who, like me, are still searching for the elusive answers to the mysteries of life.
As I have travelled the world I have been like a bee to a bloom as I have been drawn to explore museums, galleries and anywhere that I might find masterful artwork on which to feast my eyes. The work of the great masters is there in all its majesty, in all its glory for all to see as we wonder at its stupendous beauty and the thrill of it all.
I live in a state of perpetual admiration of the breath-taking talent of great artists, writers, poets, and philosophers. I have listened to these minds talking to me. Minds that seem so cavernously well informed and utterly beyond the grasp of mere mortals such as myself. I have marvelled in awe at their genius, their exquisite craftsmanship and their depth of knowledge and understanding. Real art masters whose dazzle, panache, and all-round brilliance comes shining through in a sunburst of sheer distilled talent. The real art masters who can appear to effortlessly conquer what their eye and mind can see and put their own mark of genius on the world. Great masters are able to cleverly interpret information and then to somehow weave these golden threads into their own work – in a way that only a true master can. Alas, these wondrous gifts escape me. I am but an enthusiastic amateur in comparison to artists of real God-given gifts. I am only a willful student who tries his best – nothing more.
Being a man of only modest gifts next to such great masters, then, I am always conscious of my own limitations when trying to perfect my work. I am forever thirsting still more for enlightenment and skill to improve my eye and my technique. That is why, whenever I have been able, I have spent my life studying the real artists which are found in the great galleries and museums throughout the world. And, it is why I have always sought the counsel of wise men (and women) who have helped my understanding and encouraged my various interests in what this world can offer all of us.
I shall always be eternally grateful for all the help that I have received over the years from the wise scholarship that all my teachers have provided. It is to the many people that have taught me, either directly or indirectly, that I am so grateful for their wisdom and help. I thank them for their guidance in assisting me. For providing a little clearer understanding for me because such assistance has brought some semblance to my own ill-thought and naive views on these matters.
In my work, ‘ HAND OF GOD, FOOT OF MAN, HEART OF ETERNAL LIFE ‘ – which is a work that seems to have become known among those whom the work is familiar as – THE KP CRUCIFIXION TRIPTYCH. Here, I was inspired to show the viewer that during my own search for the answers to the big questions, especially those questions which relate to a religious faith, one could not fail to be impressed, on various levels and irrespective of whether one holds religious faith or not, with the remarkable story of the historical figure that was, Jesus Christ and his followers. For example, the great and pious man that became a saint – Thomas Becket.
One can easily understand why there are so many followers of the Christian faith. Experts tell me that there are more that one billion Catholics alone that are devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I am much inspired, too, by those figures that, via their faith in Jesus’ teachings, have themselves had martyrdom thrust upon them. There are many examples of course – but one that resonates in particular with myself is the example of the historical figure that was the life and pious commitment of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury until his murder in 1170.
In Saint Thomas, I see a man, for all his human flaws, foibles, and weaknesses – take the conviction of his faith to a truly unconditional and unmovable position. In the final analysis – he was prepared to die for his beliefs, his faith, his religion. It was a death that came in the most chilling of circumstances. It was a death that he could so easily have averted. He could have elected to save himself from death at the hands of four rampaging knights of the realm. A vicious and callously cruel group of men who stormed into the Canterbury cathedral in 1170 to carry out a truly brutally murder on the nave steps of this great place of sanctity – that is Canterbury Cathedral.
No doubt these four misguided knights thought that they would gain the King’s high favour for carrying out their dastardly and wicked deed. Little could they know how much grief this evil act would, in fact, bring to their monarch of the day, Henry 11. Never in history has such a terrible act of vengeance brought so much sorrowful repentance to the avenged.
Of the man Thomas Becket himself – one cannot help but be impressed with such pious and deeply held unconditional conviction to his faith. This man showed the depth of his true belief when it came to the ultimate test. Perhaps this level of devout conviction to a cause resonates even more so if one deems oneself to be a monumental sinner – as I do in my case. Saint Thomas’ devotion to his chosen life and his brave acceptance of his fate with destiny is one of the primary motivations behind my desire to dedicate this particular Corpus Christi artwork to the life of Saint Thomas Becket – Archbishop of Canterbury 1118 – 1170.
FROM AN IDEA INTO ARTISTIC REALITY
Everything the viewer sees when looking at the KP Crucifixion triptych is hand-sculpted – including the gilded frames and cresting that sits atop each panel. These frames alone took more than twelve months each to complete. The gold leaf icon paintings took a further three months and the whole project from my first initial blueprint sketches of the concept to actually bringing the finished article into artistic reality took me more than twenty years or so. Therefore, whatever your beliefs, or whatever your world view, I do hope that you are able to find something in this work to ponder over, and, that the work sets you thinking.
The three-dimensional figurative heart found on the central panel of the triptych, Christ No. 1 – comprises 103 rubies fixed and mounted on a marble modelled heart, gold leaf dressed. The red gems signify a symbolic interpretation of the blood that Jesus spilt for his ‘jewels’ of the bible. According to God, his ‘ jewels ’ as it clearly states in the teachings – relate to every living creature, and, therefore, each and every human being is ‘a jewel’ in God’s eyes (Old Testament: Malachi. 3:17)
“And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him”
Furthermore, Jewels are the least perishable commodity known to man. And, if one is a believer, so it is with the “jewels” of God. And, for those believers of Jesus’ teachings – their Lord said: …
“ And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand “ (John 10: 28.)
Hence the symbolic heart in the piece is representative of the promise of eternal life for all those who follow Jesus. The hand of the Christ in the central panel of the triptych is clutching several clumps of high lustre south sea oyster pearls. Mother natures natural gemstone long known as the ”Queen of Gems” and recognised as such by earthly man. For thousands of years, this beautiful stone has been one of nature’s completely natural treasures that have been most highly valued by man. Indeed, the Roman general Vitellius once financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother’s pearl earrings. And, pearls have adorned the richly decorated clothes of the mighty from Cleopatra to the Queens Elizabeth 1 and 11. There are some 500 pearls in the entire Triptych No. 1 piece – many of which are hidden embedded in the structure of the frame.
The pearl is an entirely natural occurring gemstone in that it is completely untouched by man in its natural state. The gem is uncut and unpolished by man. The gem has no need for man’s intervention in this regard. There is no need for man to produce its beauty and enhance its lustre. It is completely natural in form – even when a pearl is deliberately cultured, as are most of the pearls that we see today – the lustre of its makeup is exquisite. It is these innate qualities in the pearl, as the queen of all gemstones that so fascinates and appeals to myself both as an artist and a viewer of all things naturally beautiful.
For those who follow Jesus Christ – so those who believe in the gospels will tell – as does the Holy Bible – it is said that the gates of heaven are made of this natural pearl gemstone. And, by taking the hand of God, a believer, it is said, will find the blood of eternal life as they pass through the promised pearly gates of heaven.
The pearls are symbolic of this Devine promise. In a Christian New Testament parable, Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a – ‘pearl of great price” in Matthew 13: 45-46.
“ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
The language of symbolism was in common use around the time of the early Christians. The Circle is a symbol of god – it has no beginning and no end. The circle is the traditional shape of the pearl, and thus, this shape was/is considered to represent Love and Knowledge. Pearls are also seen by some as symbols of Truth and Faith.
The Pearl of Great Price is a book of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. In Islam, the Koran often mentions that dwellers of paradise will be adorned with pearls and in Hinduism – The Vedic tradition describes the sacred Nine Pearls which were first documented in the Garuda Purana, one of the books of the Hindu holy text, Atharvaveda.
My triptych artwork here depicts the Son of God – the God of all Gods according to Christian belief – Jesus Christ offering his hand heavenly and laden with large knots of pearls ready to take to all those of Faith – through the pearly gates of heaven and on into paradise and the eternal life everlasting that is so promised in the scriptures of the Holy Bible.
The ‘Foot Of Man’ element – here in the piece is represented in the form of a diamond clad Jesus foot on the Christ figure depicted in the centre panel of the triptych. The foot is encrusted with 350 flawless diamonds. Unlike the pearl – it is the diamond, which is, mans most coveted, polished and cut gemstone. As well as any intrinsic aesthetic quality in these stones – it is the material and financial value of the diamond gem – that perhaps excites man more than its polished lustre. It is the gems value that appeals.
Therefore, for me, the diamonds draped around the foot of Jesus, in my artwork, these stones represent man’s insatiable desire for material wealth, man’s greed, his shallow principles, the temporal, the weakness in his often very flawed character, etc.
In modern life – man appears to covert such material status almost above all else. His lust for greed is thus reflected in the brilliant lustre found within the mirror of this particular gemstone. I suggest the mirror image that might be witnessed here, should we ever be able to depict the hidden lines of the diamond, exposes man’s earthly, innate foibles, his flaws, his weaknesses in the form of his easy submission to the temptations of life. Man’s innate selfishness, his greed, his lust for power and for the sins of the flesh are there for all to see and for all too often we succumb to these temptations in so many ways do so many of us fall by the wayside and fail to differentiate what is right and what is wrong.
It is the often-shallow character of man’s very being that the diamonds in this piece represent and portray – they are a mirror into his soul. All of which these human sins, according to the philosophy and the preaching’s of Jesus Christ, are forgiven if and when you accept the faith that Jesus as The Son of God. For it is Jesus – God’s only son – that has come to offer each and every one of us salvation and eternal life of the soul. That is the metaphor I was attempting to represent in this piece.
In the final analysis, and in the context from which I have presented the diamonds here, I see this much-coveted stone as being nothing but only worthless and shallow. The shiny stone offering a false lustre of what is real and of what is of value. This sparkling trinket gem is of no real significance or holds no real meaning and carries no worth in the moral maze that challenges all thinking humans. Whilst the diamonds virtues as a valuable gemstone may be held dear by man (and of course woman) this reflects the face of greed, covertness and envy. The stone may just as well be made of clay – for in the eyes of God – these two materials are made of one and the same material.
Alas, I say to you all here, I am as great a sinner as the next man. I’m sure there have been often times when I have felt myself falling into the deep pit of such shallow human weaknesses that I here depict.
The viewers will note that each Christ figure is a different colour. This, for me, represents the notion that in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ – and certainly to all right thinking people as far as I am concerned – racial differences are of no consequence. We are all are equal in the eyes of natural justice, and, certainly in the spirit of the teachings of Jesus Christ and any other religion that one cares to reflect upon.
The two wing panels of the triptych piece each show a pair of classic icons. These particular icons carry potent messages for those of the Christian faith. For a more in-depth analysis of the various symbolic messages depicted in each of the icon portraits – please refer to the KONGTHIN TRIPTYCH CATALOGUE.
Finally. It matters not to me whether one carries a torch for a specific religion or not. For no matter what or which faith (if any) one follows – one cannot but fail to be intrigued and certainly inspired by the life and philosophy of the historical figure known as Jesus Christ, and, by a faith which has been able to inspire in such people the pious dedication to that faith as the examples like Saint Thomas Becket. A mere mortal who was able to reach such profound and complete conviction to the teachings of the phenomena that was Jesus Christ.
This story is moving and manifestly inspirational from whichever perspective one cares to judge. I was /am truly inspired by the phenomena that is Jesus Christ and his follower Thomas Beckett.
I should also point out that I have yet to take up ‘the faith’ that these respective religious figures have inspired in millions of good people across the globe. Their amazing storylines have stood the test of time. However, for myself, I admit that such a specific religious conviction to anyone philosophy eludes me still.
However, when I am asked if I ever feel that my triptych work was/is divinely inspired? I say, that I do not know the answer to that question. For me, that is a completely different proposition to consider. I am not a practising Christian. But, as I continue my search for the answers, I can tell you that – At spes non-fracta – but my hope (for our planet and all who shares her bounty) is not broken.