Exploring religious iconography has helped one of Scotland’s foremost painters to regain his strength
This oil is one of my favourites, and was completed during my recovery from a long illness. It shows the resurrected Christ as he appeared to St John the Divine many years after his death on the cross.
John was the only Apostle not to be martyred. He was imprisoned on the island of Patmos, where he wrote ‘The Revelation’ after Christ appeared in front of him in full glory, and said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Christ then said to him, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever!” John realised that he had been kept alive to see this vision and to write this amazing book and reveal the mystery that had been kept secret since before the beginning of time.
In this painting, one cannot escape the penetrating stare of the Lion of Judah. Finally, he said to the last remaining Apostle, “I am the Beginning and the End. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
This painting was done with a very limited palette, using only a mixture of whites, Payne’s grey, yellow ochre, raw umber and light red. It took at least eight months to complete and I had to use a hairdryer to dry it in time for my comeback exhibition at Flowers Central Gallery in London, in November just past.
After many years of depression and a recent two-year stay in hospital, I feel that through this image I am out of the dark tunnel and into the light.
Peter Howson’s work can be found in major collections around the world, including Flowers Gallery where A Life is on until 11 January.