LOGOS, egg tempera on true gesso panel, 57.5 x 61 cms
© Fergus A Ryan, 2022
This is a portrait of the American art historian and curator Joseph Bravo, who had recently my deligtful been house guest. Our conversations on art, culture, philosophy and theology ranged long into the night—once till 4.30am! I also did a charcoal drawing, 'Triskelion', for which Joseph posed in my studio. On our visits to the National Museum of Ireland and the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle Joseph identified each artefact with encyclopaedic knowledge, including the 'holy grail' of manuscripts from the Mughal Court.
Logos (λόγος) is the Greek word for 'word, or message, or idea', and I have introduced as a background a Greek inscription from the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis. The now-ruined city was in the province of Phrygia in Asia Minor, near the ancient city of Laodicea mentioned in the Book of Revelation, in what is now Turkey. It was a centre for the arts, philosophy and trade, a fitting backdrop to my subject. Philip the Apostle is said to be buried here, and Paul passed through Phrygia on his missionary journeys, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. There was a sizeable Jewish and Christian population in the city and it remained occupied until the fourteenth century. Alas my three years of Greek only allow me to recognise the word 'KAI' (and). Logos is the word John used in his Gospel to describe Christ as the word who was eternally going forth from God and was himself God. The Gospel of John is an account of the 'logos' that became flesh.