Conor Walton, Preaching to the Converted, 2019

This painting takes its cues from Giovanni Bellini’s ‘Baptism of Christ’ (see below) except that it is a perverse baptism. The artist posed as John the Baptist pouring water on a salamander instead of Christ, his three children stand in as the angels, the “baptism” is witnessed by a congregation of frogs, and God the Father has been replaced by a central banker dropping ‘helicopter money.’ The artist writes “I think of the whole thing as an environmental catastrophe painting and ironic commentary on our attempts to care for, make sacred, ‘save’ nature (and ourselves). In the Bellini man is represented as in harmony with nature and blessed by a caring God. Made in God’s image, he is the middle term in a vast providential order. Having largely dispensed with the old gods and (through scientific advance) assumed their powers (‘Homo Deus, ‘The God Species’) we find ourselves struggling with the responsibility those powers confer.”

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