Thursday, January 25, 2018

Christ, that's funny!: Portraits of the Laughing Jesus

From what we know of Jesus - which, from a historical perspective, isn't very much - he doesn't seem to have been a real good-time sort of guy. In spite of all those references to turning water into wine, officiating at weddings, last suppers and the like, and even if people claimed he DID get a little tipsy from doing so, wisecracks and one-liners do not abound in his many familiar sayings.

THIS was the Jesus I grew up with, and if ever a sobersides existed, he was it. He had this long, sombre, Anglo-Saxon face, a receding hairline, and the high forehead of aristocracy. Not exactly a laugh riot.  The only quizzical line of his that  I can think of is the camel through the eye of the needle (or was that a needle through the eye of a camel? Poor camel!), and that line about, "You see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but not the great log in your own eye." Maybe you had to be there.

We want to know what Jesus looked like. We're curious. Even non-Christians want to know. Even people like me - and in spite of years of uneasy association with the church, I now believe Jesus was a composite, the teachings and sayings and saving deeds of many itinerant prophets rolled into one - want to know. Unconventional takes are welcome, even the above, rather smarmy pose, which probably shows up more often than any of the others, and in more guises.

Sunset orange.

Pastel blue.

And this one, an obvious corruption.

I don't know why it is, but artists have a hard time portraying Jesus as a - what? A real man, or is that too homophobic? What I'm trying to say is, Jeez! He looks like someone competing in America's Got Talent or something, telling us all that his Mom ("Hi, Mom! You're my inspiration!") is completely OK with his "awesome" lifestyle. Even the hairstyle is a little too Vidal Sassoon for my liking.

But this one is just plain disrespecful. Yes! - I believe that Jesus, if there really was a Jesus, likely laughed, because practically everyone who isn't brain-damaged laughs. But like THIS? The look in his eyes is wicked - demonic. He looks to be hatching some sort of evil plot. I don't know what puts these ideas into people's heads. You'd think, if you'd go to the trouble of painting or drawing a Laughing Jesus, there'd be a little more benevolence involved. To quote a Hindu guy I know: "Holy cow."

But it gets worse! Yes - this really is supposed to be Jesus - laughing. They sure had purty teeth all those thousands of years ago.

Does he have to look like this? In all of them? Or am I thinking in stereotypes again? Raymond Burr was gay. Rock Hudson. Gomer Pyle! None of them looked like this. "Wheeeeeeeeeee!"

Howling, but more in pain than laughter.

This one, for some reason, reminds me of a picture I saw in an anthropology text that depicted an australopithecine, humanity's distant ancestor. 

Once in a while, though, I find a depiction that just sort of appeals to me. This may look nothing like the "real" Jesus, the one who may or may not have existed. But it's a nice picture. He looks just Middle Eastern enough to defy the washed-out Sunday School stereotype, without being an out-and-out Neanderthal. He's - well, he's gorgeous is what he is! Just a hint of androgyny, enough to be cool without the salon look. I think I would welcome him as my personal Saviour - if he, and I, were so inclined.

P. S. (the "kicker"): Been looking for this one for years! Though there are those who believe I am nuts, I am an avid Blingophile. I love making Blingees, as they are my only real shot at visual art, and this one, sentimental though it may be, is quite beautiful. The subtlety of the animation is quite pleasing to me. It took a reverse-search through my TinEye program to find a true animated version, as I only had a jpg on hand from a post a lo-o-o-o-o-ong time ago. By the way, my search yielded 122 results. And as I look at it now, the reflection seems almost feminine, like the face of Mary. Jesus could always depend on his Mom. 

I was quite intrigued to find, upon researching the paintings of Greg Olsen (who did the Christ image at the end of my Laughing Jesus display), that he also did the face of the Blingee I like. Some of his imagery is kind of cool, bringing contemporary figures into a Biblical setting. I wish my old white vinyl-covered Bible with the zipper on it had had pictures in it by THIS guy - I might have paid more attention in Sunday School.

Another, more secular Olsen painting. I think it's quite charming and well-composed, and I like the quality of the light. I also like what it's saying: I have a couple of granddaughters like this, whose fashion sense ranges from tutus and ballet shoes to beat-up jeans. And there's not a princess in sight.

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