At some point during our lives, we encounter unsavoury people whose sole purpose seem to be the destruction of everyone around them. Jealousy rots a hole through the core of their entire being. Black magic appears to be at play when the small hairs on the nape of your neck rise and your skin crawl. Your intuition cautions you to avoid these people.
No wonder the need to ‘avert the evil eye’ is so great. We can adorn our thresholds with symbols of protection, or even hang them around our necks in the form of the Hamsa. We’ll do anything, as long as we’re spared from the gaze of a cruel and jealous eye, which reminds me of the tale of the ‘hand of glory’: Black magic charms used from the 16th century meant to destroy someone. Jacob Grimm even tells the story: Basically, the hand of a criminal is severed before he is sentenced to death and hanged for his crimes.
The hand is then meticulously dried and preserved and can allegedly open any lock. It was typically used to stun the victim into a deep sleep, while their abode is burned to the ground. The hand holds a candle made from the dead man’s fat (how charming) and the flames it produces is believed to be inextinguishable.
That is the premise of my painting: Manus Autem Oculus (hand and eye).
My painting depicts a hand with an open palm with an eye in it. The arm sprouts forth from black roots and smoke. The eye in the centre of the palm is connected to the smoke above it, and with a long black stream unites with the smoke below it.
The fingers are scorched at the tips, and only four are visible, representing the elements of nature: Earth, Fire, Water and Air. The fire signs in astrology also represent four. The background is a dream-like cushion of soft pink and grey, swirling smoke clouds.
”It bursts locks and shatters stones,
it opens in the mountains the hidden treasures hitherto concealed from men,
or it paralyzes, lulling into a magic sleep, or, again, it restores life.”
– Sabine Baring-Gould