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Christ Alchemist

L. Caruana 1997
50 x 80 cm, oil & varnish on wood


This painting opened new doorways of understanding for me. Those experience have been gathered together in an autobiographical piece of writing entitled The Journey Thus Far(included under ‘Writings’ on this website). That work may be visited directly, or accessed below through various links to the relevant sections.

…was inspired initially by a dream. In this most unusual dream, I saw the painting: Christ, hooded as an alchemist, upholding his hands in a peculiar manner. Though rising from the crypt, he stood before an altar. And strangest of all, the Christ-child was being born before him in a luminous cloud of vapours arising from the chalice /vas hermeticum.
Then, after staring at the initial composition for hours, I intuitively added other elements. Most of these were drawn from a study of Alchemy, but also from Byzantine and even ancient Sumerian art. The alchemical composition as a whole was drawn from the Cabala Mineralis manuscript, depicting the birth of the homunculus. But the gryphon on the left and the caduceus on the right were drawn from Sumerian statues in the Louvre. Meanwhile, a series of Byzantine influences appear, as a result of my travels through Romania and Moldavia, making for a complex iconography. Sketches in my Notebooks document the evolution of the painting’s composition.
I carried the painting with me for several years, working on it as I travelled from country to country. Once, in Malta, it was destroyed entirely. But, as Christ Alchemist neared completion, I was able to begin a series of meditations on its images. Strangely enough, the painting became a kind of doorway, which I was able to enter through. For the first time in my life, I had the undeniable sensation of entering through the image.
This led to a radically new understanding of my painting and its imagery. The myths of Christianity and Alchemy were approached anew. I became fascinated by the idea of how two different cultural myths could cross with one another, and what that crossing meant. I came to understand the deeper message imbedded in my painting.
Finally, ‘the interplay of art, myth, and dream’ revealed to me a more sacred understanding of my own life. I came to see how life,with each threshold crossing, was a gradual unveiling of the Sacred.

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