I have always had a deep attraction to depictions of angels. I especially have a fondness for angelic depictions created during the time of the Italian Renaissance. Sure, the figures are basically human with large wings and halos included in their visage, but there is something so rich about these figures. True, they are representing messengers of God, but they are far more akin to the Greek ideals of beauty and ideal human form than any creature that would inspire the fear that the Bible describes. True, there are examples of such frightening angels in this era. However, when I think of these creatures, this piece is always the first to come to mind.
This is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Annunciation, which depicts the angel coming to tell Mary that she is going to bear the Son of God. Aside from my general amusement at Mary’s expression ( “Pardon me? Are you quite certain?!”), I personally love the gentle force born in the angel. The drapery of his costume is luscious, his whole body active, and you can actually see the wings joining into his back. I can’t help but feel compelled by this creature. The fact that the artist used a very human looking angel does not eclipse the fact that he carries a divine essence. Even if you took away the halo and the wings, I still feel as though I would know him for what he is because the artist imbued him with the rich energy that I associate with angels. In sooth, I think true angels might appear more like this:
These images come from the fabulous fairy artist Brian Froud. In a section of his book Good Faeries/Bad Faeries he shares his thoughts and depictions of angels. He writes something that I find interesting, “All phenomena of thought or emotion that are subjective to us are objective to angels. Angelic emotions, aspirations, and consciousness are all external, visible, pulsing and flashing through their bodies. the exquisite beauty of angelic faces is due to this: these beings are literally open and transparent, revealing pure intent.” Tis this “pure intent” that I see in Da Vinci’s angel, but strangely enough, I also strongly recognize it in people. For me, every person I meet is pulsing with energy. True, most are very keen on masking that energy and keeping themselves wrapped in their own false complexity. Perhaps that’s why I am so attracted to the simplicity of angels within the art world. They are uncomplicated, purely about their business of bringing whatever message is assigned to them. Their energy is unclouded by self-doubt, suspicion, and lack of direction. Funny thing is, as I said, that energy is very present in people. I once read a book that said something along the lines of (major paraphrase), “As long as we are brave, and hold fast to who we are, and what we love with all our strength, then we are greater than angels.” Our beings our strong, because our beings our loved. Our energy has every potential to be transparent and powerful. Perhaps, once we fully embrace such an idea, that’s when we find our wings.