Ink Flies in a Mind

Jaff Seijas, Self-portrait as St. Sebastian (2005) Ink on paper.

If anyone doubts that St. Sebastian holds a special place in the creative mind as a symbol of the artist’s self and the idea that every painter paints himself, then take a look at Jaff Seijas’ self-portrait above. It is not proof but it is telling. I came across it on the web a few days ago. Jaff, I don’t think he would mind me saying, is not a great master. Nevertheless, he has turned arrows into pens the same way that Andrea Mantegna, Sandro Botticelli, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Memling, Lorenzo Lotto, Eugène Delacroix, Egon Schiele and dozens of other great masters subtly suggested that their arrows were paintbrushes and that they themselves were St. Sebastian suffering the mental agony of creation, the mental world depicted as the physical. He even bleeds ink as the Sebastians of the great masters bleed paint.

That is not all. Just as I have shown the hands of great masters “touching” the image from the other side as though they were "drawing" or "painting" it, so Jaff’s raised hand seems to “touch” the sheet in the top right corner as if to say, correctly, that I am drawing this and am still in the process of drawing this, creation in action.1

Even the Cross-shaped shadow on his torso subtly suggests to the sensitive viewer that Christ is inside Jaff. It reminds us what any enlightened mind can discover, that once we overcome our own personal ego, we too will be revealed as divine. This is not blasphemy but a simple expression of a basic truth that inside each of us is a divine spark called Christ in Christianity, Atman in Hinduism and Buddhism, Allah in Islam, Yahweh in Judaism etc. etc.

Where did Jaff find this knowledge? I’ll ask him and let you know next week.

1, Regular users will remember that Manet’s Mlle V in the Costume of an  Espada is painting an upper corner too.

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