An Exhibition of Passion and Resurrection Etchings
by Patrick Pye
Exhibited at the Marian Library: March 18 - April 26, 1996.
This exhibit presents twenty-three etchings by Patrick Pye. They
are part of a collection of etchings by the same artist owned by
the Marian Library / International Marian Research Institute. The
etchings presented in our gallery have been selected to highlight
the presence of Christ the Redeemer in our lives, especially the
meaning of his Passion and Resurrection.
The theme of this exhibit recalls the famous prayer attributed to
St. Patrick (c. 390 - c. 461): "Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me...." The leitmotif of the Pye
etchings is expressed in Abraham's Sacrifice (#4 - see above) of
which the artist once said: "The only way that I have been able
to come to terms with it is through the perceptions of the inner
dialogue of prophecy and fulfillment of the two Testaments, Old
An attempt to make "a contemporary equivalent to the icons of this theme in old Russia," the Transfiguration connects with Abraham's Sacrifice and transcends it, pointing toward the Resurrection as ultimate answer to human tragedy and senseless agony. The bulk of the series deal with the Passion event (#10-19), contemplating its various facets, "graphically" suffering with the Servant of the Servants (#14) and at the same time gravely rejoicing in the new life flowing from Jesus' heart (#15, The Heart of Christ for Us). Etchings #20-22 celebrate the victory over suffering and death, especially expressed in The Redeemer (#21) and The Maid of Israel (#22). The latter is a summary of human existence and meaning. It portrays the unknown "Maid announced to by the angel in the mists of the world," and her personal fulfillment as "Queen of Heaven enthroned in glory."
The twenty-three etchings were all handprinted at the Graphic Studio Dublin either by the artist or by Stephen Lawlor, his colleague and a printer by profession. Most of them are worked with a steel needle on copper plate with a wax ground. Submerged in a bath of nitric acid, the acid bites into the copper wherever the needle has removed the "ground." For printing, the plate is covered with etching ink which is then gently wiped away leaving the ink in the intaglio lines.
"The believer (artist or not) finds himself born into an age of unbelief. We cannot find in this disposition anything other than the sickness of the age. We cannot, however, put our heads into the sack of our own belief as though all were well with the world, as if unbelief were someone else's problem. We must suffer this sickness ourselves in such a way that the infidel (our neighbour) realizes that it is his own. The artist suffers this sickness in a special way. Everywhere the language appropriate to the faith has been whittled away. There are no longer the words to talk of spiritual things; indeed, the absence of the words has become a habit that people no longer notice. In this Rouault seems to me to be the exemplar for our generation of artists. He brought the faith to this point: where does man suffer? We have to begin again by pointing to that area in man where, in his solitude and pain, he becomes aware of the "disrelation" in his own self. Men will naturally work to dull the pain and we can expect men to call it "morbid" and "anti-life," but the believer will work to keep the pain awake, to kindle the spark of desire that is concealed therein. I do not know if this is what I do - or even worry at my failure to do it. I recognise it as what waits to be done. This is our tuning fork."
Patrick Pye, Apples & Angels, Dublin 1980
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