Caravaggio fascinated me throughout my student years. Not only for his heightened representation and pushing the forms out into the viewers personal space, but also the way he pushed a censored spirit into that space. Despite the grandeur of light and form, his works are very intimate. The image of Thomas poking around in the wound of Jesus reveals, only to Thomas’ touch, some sort of mystery beneath the fold of Jesus’ skin. This image has always been a startling image for me. The encounter between Jesus and Thomas is a physical encounter. Thomas seems almost like a blind man focused on the tactile touch at the end of his finger along with Jesus’ restraining grip around his wrist. Thomas is orientated to be from the viewers space. He is our entry into the painting. By probing jesus’ wound he is modeling how we are to poke into the painting – we doubters.
It’s all visual, but I am left with a tremendous tactile sensation on the tip of my index finger.
And it is very sexual. From the mid 1980’s to the mid 1990’s there were many artist exploring this very orientation of the roles of the sexes.
I just realized we haven’t heard much about Caravagio lately.
It was a strong influence on the blue draped elephant (the top image) in the previous post.