Sunday, February 17, 2008

Angelic Art: Orokie's Angels.

Angels, as images, are ancient beings that enter many religions. By name, they are messengers, intermediaries between lower and higher worlds. (They are mal’ach Hebrew, malaaikah, Arabic). The Hebraic angels of the Kabbalah and The Bible are mysterious forms. The angel mythology which spreads through the world today mainly descends from Catholicism, whose imaginative art codified the nine groups of angels.

The angel is a strange image, from linguistic roots. It grows from masculine nouns. Angels themselves are given powerful masculine roles. This is most true in the Protestant world of Paradise Lost: warriors (Michael and Gabriel), advisor (Raphael), overseer (Uriel). And in the Catholic vision of Dante's Divine Comedy where angels are powerful mover-intelligences. Yet, the angel, as a being, is thought to be androgynous, with a feminine beauty. The Sufi Ruzbehan Baqli described Gabriel as “like a maiden…with hair like a woman falling in long tresses…like a red rose.” This feminine aura is typical of Pre-Raphaelite art which created male images from female models and pictured angels as non-erotic beings.

There is, however, an erotic core to angel mythology. This exists as Eros/Kama in Greek and Hindu mythology. In Greek mythology, the winged Eros is a god without body: Psyche must not behold him, she is taught to know him through mind/psyche. In Hindu mythology, Kama Ananga is about to release his love arrows when Shiva burns his body alive, thus showing how the mind must reach beyond physical desire. These myths portray an elevated sexuality—a winged sexuality. It is a view connected to contemplation and imagination.

In gay art, today, sexy angels are as numerous as the host of heaven. The deification of Beauty by gay art reflects the religious tradition of beautiful angels, but also the superficial worship of Beauty (mainly White Beauty) among gay culture. Just a glance down the art pages of eBay shows how seller and buyer meet through the sexy angel image, the “Adonis-Angel” stereotype, which shows about as much knowledge of mythology as it does of art! The youthful nature of angels (Eros-Hermes) is bastardized into boy-cult worship. Is parodied and paraded in paradisal angels with carnival strap-on wings:

Is changed into a gratuitous voyeurism that is off-set with religious overtones. Sickening:

But black angels do appear in this White world. At the most cynical level there is this:

Here, a Black Boy-Adonis is given a penis-halo. The figure is nothing more than a sexual object. His spiritual qualities are confined to what he might do with his cock (ring). A thug-image is finished off with evil black wings, black bat-like appendages: think Dore’s Satan or Gothic vampirism. And this black magic chocolate delight is painted in China, cheaply, on demand, to supply the West’s voyeuristic tastes. Forget being set on fire with angelic conversation. Meeting has become meat at a barbecue.

At another level, there are artists that represent a deeper mythology. Such as this watercolour that shows the angel Samael (Satan) in a double manner: fallen, yet holy, a Black angel that has fallen in the eyes of culture, yet one maintaining a dignity of self.

And there are photographs, such as this by Menfesawe-Imani (from the Black Angel Project), that recognise the spiritual with the Black image and locate the angelic within a mode of seeing.

In the angels of Orokie, Beauty is very much to the forefront. But the angels of Orokie possess a very different quality to those within prevailing White gay culture. They are vital beings. In this image of Sandalphon, whose name means the sound of the foot, whom Orokie also calls “Amini”, the Brotherly Guardian beats with a heart beat that is also a drum beat from Africa as it calls the foot into dance. His phallic wand bestows life and he is a symbol of the spiritual energy within brotherhood. ACTIVE, DIMENSIONAL, CONFRONTATIONAL, he is far-removed from the effete and badly drawn angels of fallen culture. As spirit made him, so he asks to be viewed by spirit. He is spirited in the true sense of the word: Black spirited, a testifying angel, erotic in the contemplative sense (of Eros/Kama Ananga). This Sandalphon requires the viewer to feel. In Orokie's art, his angels are symbols, they bring messages about embedding feeling in human life, not just eroticising what might be done with a beautiful boy in bed.


Roy said...

Your angels are by far and away the best. They are dynamic and forceful. They are magical. They are not efete. The balance of the body's weight and swift line that you use with brush and graphite are very evocative and powerful.

Afriboy said...

Roy, thank you for your kind words. They lift me. I am glad you see what I see. :)