William Blake

This is another case of my dissertation research coinciding with my studio practice which I feel has benefitted me greatly as both fuel the other. A large bulk of my dissertation is looking at the art from the past and how evil has been depicted throughout the ages. A painting that I have analysed extensively is William Blake’s “The Good and Evil Angels.” I felt this work is a typical piece of its time and portrayed good and evil in this classic battle.

The Good and Evil Angels 1795/?c.1805 by William Blake 1757-1827

“Perhaps the chain attached to the ‘evil’ angel’s ankle suggests the curtailing of energy by misguided rational thought? In constructing his figures, Blake evokes conventional eighteenth century stereotypes. The heavy build and darker skin of the ‘evil’ angel suggest a non-European character, described by Lavater as ‘strong, muscular, agile; but dirty, indolent and trifling’, while the fair hair and light skin of the ‘good’ angel are consonant with ideas of physical – and intellectual – perfection.”

This is a piece that is portrays evil in a way that is completely opposite to mine. As well as portraying good as evil as something that is either black or white the piece suggests evilness is something that will be severely punished in this life or the next. As a result this work carries a distinct religious undertone.

In order to look to the future you must look at the past so this research into the art from the past has been extremely useful in terms of constructing my current studio practice.


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