For Example Mithras, Part II

Here you get an overview of the works in the series. Part II of For Example Mithras is made up of four acrylic paintings.

The Suncircle

Measuments: total width: 8.530 ft x height 5' - 6 9/10" (5.577 ft) ;
width of separate parts of painting: 4' - 3 2/10" (4.265 ft) ; diptych; acrylic on canvas. Click on this link for a larger view:

The Suncircle. The torches held up and down by Cautes and Cautopates marking the revolvement of earth and sky.

For her exhibition e.g. Mithras, Part II, Farangis tried to separate Mithras - the central figure of the cult - by means of a different way of depiction, from the Roman view and interpretation. Nevertheless, she uses the imagery of the Roman antique, especially the sacramental images which depict Mithras slaying the bull, and the sequence of works starts with the figures of Cautes and Cautopates which assist Mithras.

Cautes and Cautopates

A wide sky and circling suns, as symbols of the visual daily progression of the sun, emphasize the rhythm of light. Holding one torch upwards and one torch downwards, the torch bearers Cautes and Cautopates indicate the direction of the light, and at the same time they allude to the coming- into-life and light, and to the cessation-of-life and darkness.

Farangis tries to bring across that a cosmical order does not leave anything disappear into an eternal darkness nor does the life-creating brightness incessantly rule our lives.

Farangis connects in this picture, which is primarily dedicated to Cautes and Cautopates, further images that we are familiar with from the Roman Mithras mystery, like for example the raven, the serpent, the dog, the scorpion, and also young Mithras as born from the rock. Very consciously the slaying scene is not shown here, thus no fraction of death is being depicted. An anthem for light and life in a bright colorfulness seeks to touch the viewer.

The Wind

Measuments: total width: 11.81088 ft x height 3' - 3 4/10" (3.280 ft) ;
width of separate parts of painting: 1' - 7 7/10" (1.640 ft), 2' - 1 6/10" (2.132 ft), 4' - 3 2/10" (4.265 ft) ; consists of 5 parts, acrylic on canvas. Click on this link for a larger view:

The Wind. The wind gods and Mithras rejecting to kill.

With an emphasis on the width of the sky, that we see on the painting consisting of 5 separate parts, Mithras is positioned in the center and to his sides are the four wind-gods. Farangis shows Mithras here with the cosmical symbol elements. He is shown in his coat, that the wind blows open, the inside of the coat is the sky with its stars.

Mithras rejects to kill

Mithras is sitting on the back of the steer, the steer holds his tail upwards and the tip of the tail is a threefold ear of grain. The tip of the steers tail as a threefold ear of grain is a symbol taken from the old Persian mythology pertaining to the figure of Mithras. Mithras is generally recognizable in the moment in which he takes hold of the steers head, but with this picture Farangis has painted a position for the slayer that has not been depicted like this before, because here we see Mithras in his decision to refrain from killing the steer. By holding back the hand that wants to kill, he resists to become a murderer by divine command.

In the cosmical piety of the Mithras mysteries the raven plays an important role. The raven is mostly depicted as sitting on the soft coat of Mithras, and facing him directly. Since the dwelling places of birds are both sky and earth, birds often have been attributed a mediating role between the gods of heaven and the earthly world of people.

The four wind gods left and right, up and low, indicate the four wind directions. In many ancient languages wind seen as closely related to breathe, breath and air. In this way, on this picture Mithras has not taken the animals breath, but has preserved life. He has integrated into the cycle of life within a cosmic order and has withheld himself against the divine command to kill.

Mithras slaying the Bull

Mithras slaying the Bull

Measuments: total height: 13.779 ft x width 3' - 3 4/10" (3.280 ft) ;
width of separate parts of painting: 4' - 7 1/10" (4.593 ft) ; triptych, acrylic on canvas. Click on this link for a larger view:

The Slaying of the Bull. The sacrifice in the Mithras cult.

This vertical triptych shows us Mithras as him who in slaying the bull. He holds the animal at its hard breathing nostrils to incapacitate the breath. To block any living beings ability to breathe occirs often as a part of killing rituals because the method increases death agony.

In the process of slaughter Mithras pushes his short sword into the carotid artery of the animal and a bloodstream rushes out of the wound into the big clay vessel which Farangis gives the meaning of a baptismal font. In the vessel a naked Miles (Roman soldier) stands immersed in blood. The sacral action takes place at the moment the blood of the sacrificed animal turns into blood that creates life.

To kill living beings as a sacrifice in order to create new life, is an act which which different religions have been practicing since long times. Especially in the monotheistic religions, acts of killing, as a proof of obedience, assure of God's favor and promise a redemption of guilt and sin in the sense of a clearance.

In this painting Farangis gives an extended view on Mithras, who kills the bull. Images of the scene on the sacramental altars often show Mithras as turning his sight away from the animal and looking to an imagined upper point, as if there was something which in a superordinate way gives an order to kill, and he, Mithras, simply fulfills the deed like an obedient servant.

On this triptych two aspects of the position of one who believes in God are pointed out: to kill a creature when God ordains you to, and to appear in front of God as being cleared through the blood of the sacrifice.

The Sacrifice in the Abrahamic Religions

The Sacrifice in the Abrahamic Religions

Measuments: total height 12.467 ft x width: 4' - 1 2/10" (4.101 ft) ;
height of separate parts of painting: 3' - 11 2/10" (3.936 ft) ; triptych, acrylic on canvas. Click on this link for a larger view:

The Sacrifice in the Abrahamic Religions. The sacrificed life as the equivocal link between God and man.

As an extension of the thought about the sacrifices' death as a necessity for the creation of new life, and the tought about the absolute obedience within a belief, we see an example in the big vertical triptych.

Farangis shows an Islamic and a Jewish priest with the same posture, as Mithras, the slayer of the steer, typically displays it: how with his sight turned away he pushes the short sword into the throat of the sacrificed animal and how the animal dies bleeding. Here too, analogous to the bleeding steer of the Mithras mystery, the blood of the sacrificed animal is poured into a vessel - now a large drinking glass. In the depiction of three crosses pertaining to Christian symbolism and with the rough indication of a mouth that wants to drink this blood, a linkage that stands between the abrahamic religions becomes plain.

In the range of works entitled FOR EXAMPLE MITHRAS Farangis has dealt with a subject which is currently highly sensitive. In the first few years when she started to work on this theme, it was still rare that contemporary artists from the western cultures dealt with religion. This theme was more expected from the arts of the so called native cultures that are still inspired by their archaic gods in their arts. Almost surprised we notice now, that in our search for our lost values and in midst of an extremely tough and painful confrontation with the non-Christian world, more and more often the sense and the non sense of religiosity is being asked about.

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