Some twenty years ago I began drawing and painting images of what some people insisted were angels. Okay, whatever. Basically they were lovely male nudes. With wings.
"Annunciator" -- © Ryl Mandus
There are some people who believe their idea of what ‘angels’ are, and what they’re supposed to look like, is the only one allowed. At an exhibition where several of my angel paintings and drawings were on display, a woman — huffy and indignant — came up to me and demanded to know, “Why are you making angels all hunky and beautiful?!”
This is the one that got her all hot under the collar and bothered:
"Archangel" -- graphite © Ryl Mandus
Taken aback by the strength of her seeming distress, I answered, “Why should god make ugly angels?” The response had popped out of my mouth before I had a chance to really consider her accusation. “Don’t you believe,” I continued, trying to cover my possibly inappropriate answer, “that angels should be seen as examples of what we should strive to attain or achieve for ourselves?”
She glared at me, renewed her huffy state, and stormed away.
And then there are those who believe that their special religious club has exclusive ownership over the concept of angels, which is just plain crazy. Winged beings bearing the form and likeness of Human Beings have been with us ever since we gave them wings to symbolize the ease with which these creatures or fevered imaginings popped in and out of our presence.
The word ‘angel’ is taken from the Greek ‘angelos’ (ἄγγελος) — which simply means ‘messenger’. The Harpies, before the Hellenics perverted their origin and purpose, were the beautiful winged daughters of Zeus and their function was to snatch up the wicked and take them away for punishment of horrific crimes — making Harpies the original avenging angels.
The earliest form of the word is the Mycenaean a-ke-ro attested in Linear B syllabic script.
The Greek ‘angelos’ predates Islam, Christianity, or Judaism — none of which has a monopoly on these winged anthropomorphic creatures. They were in essence emissaries, messengers who carried communications from the gods. Why were such emissaries needed? Because it was believed that mortal minds cannot perceive the Divine. It was feared our heads might explode, or some such nonsense. Intermediaries were required to buffer our little monkey brains from that shock.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
Anyway, I just like people with wings. Though it’s probably Freudian, I prefer to think it’s Jungian.
"Enfolding" -- mixed media © Ryl Mandus
But the hardest part apart painting angels is getting them to sit still for it, and then having to listen to them whine about how cold the paint is.