Untitled / Mountains,
Painted by Harold Ancart (b. 1980),
Painted in 2016,
Oilstick and graphite on paper mounted on panel
© Christie’s New York, 27 September 2019, lot 311, sold $218,000
Mountain, get up and throw yourself into the sea
After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again' he said. And his disciples heard him say this.
So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, 'Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers' den.' This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.
Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. 'Look, Rabbi,' he said to Jesus, 'the fig tree you cursed has withered away.' Jesus answered, 'Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, "Get up and throw yourself into the sea," with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too. But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.'
Reflection on the Painting
Our reading today includes the following words, which are quite perplexing: 'Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, "Get up and throw yourself into the sea," with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him'. Jesus sometimes spoke in hyperbole (an exaggerated statement to make a point). The words were obviously not meant to be taken literally. In that sense, it is similar to Him telling us to remove the beam out of your own eye or a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Jesus painted these images with words, thus creating an unforgettable mental image to make a powerful point. Whilst many different interpretations can probably be given to this verse, I think Jesus wants to make clear that if we hold true faith in God, then we can overthrow anything that would stand in the way of living our faith. The verse shows the power of prayer. Prayer will develop a faith that is as strong as it is painted in this verse: we will be able to move mountains!
The painting depicting colourful mountains to almost kaleidoscopic effect is by Belgian contemporary artist, Harold Ancart. The bright colours are achieved by using oil sticks. The colours of the textured mountains contrast with the blackness of the background. Prayer is colouring the dark areas we have in our lives. Prayer colours how we see the world. Prayer will truly help us to move mountains.
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