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FISHERMAN FOR THE SOULS
First, we see a fisherman who motions as if casting a net into deep waters.
Water is associated with the unconscious – the knowledge hidden in its depths is very hard (or even impossible) for humans to obtain but can be accessed by the fish. Consider how Christ is justly called the ‘catcher of human souls’.
The early Christian ‘fish’ symbol, the Greek ἰχθύς (ichthus, "fish") is an acronym for Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior). The Latin piscina (‘fish-pond’) was used to refer to baptism, and the newly converted were affectionately called pisciculi (‘little fishes’).
We say ‘still waters run deep’ – the soul of another is hidden under a slumber-like veil and in the depths of the sea there is knowledge and knowing of God into which a man is initially unable to penetrate. The water cleanses, immersing yourself in it amounts to being born again. Therefore, the man in the painting is a representation of God casting the net in order to introduce the man to the knowledge of the world and its Creator through the image of a goldfish.
The goldfish itself is a symbol of divine visitation or inspiration, of success in navigating the ‘turbulent sea of life’. Jesus himself draws an analogy between catching fish and converting people to the new faith. The faithful are baptized in water, often by immersion in a font. The image of the three intertwined fishes is a symbol of Trinity and a reference to the major Christian feast of the same name.
The fisherman’s butterfly wings invoke an age-old association with the newly converted souls, butterfly being a symbol of immortality in the ancient times. Its life cycle is an excellent example of this: life (a brightly colored caterpillar), death (a dark chrysalis) and revival (the spirit breaking free).
In the aftermath of WWII Dr Elizabeth Ross was taking care of the children rescued from the Nazi concentration camps. In the barracks where they were housed, she noticed the simple shape of a butterfly repeatedly scratched on the wooden bunks. When asked about the meaning of this picture the children at first refused to answer. At long last a seven-year-old boy explained: “These butterflies represent us. We all know that our suffering bodies are but a passing stage, like a caterpillar’s, and one day our souls will fly away from all this filth and pain. Drawing butterflies is a way to remind each other about this. We are the butterflies and we are going to fly away soon."
Key to Knowledge
By VLADIMIR KUSH
Book as a ‘key to knowledge’
Books were always invaluable sources of learning accumulated over the centuries and surviving right down to the present day. What do we know about the culture of ancient Greece? Turn to the Odyssey and Iliad of Homer!
Book as a ‘ray of light in the darkness of ignorance’
Through reading books we cultivate our outlook on life, train our imagination, broaden and deepen our perception of the world.
Pages of a book as ‘days of our life’
An all-time classic – the ‘life story’ of Robinson Crusoe and his strange and surprising adventures – tells us about the main character’s survival after a shipwreck and spending over twenty years alone on a desert island.
Written and spoken word as compared in the following Russian and Latin sayings:
Littera scripta manet – The written word endures
Et semel emissum volat irrevocabile verbum – And a word once uttered flies away never to be recalled (Horace)
Verba volant, scripta manent – What is spoken flies, what is written never dies
By VLADIMIR KUSH
There are two bridges in the painting. One bridge is the rainbow, the creation of nature, connecting the Earth and Heaven. According to the ancients, the souls of the fallen warriors on the rainbow are on the bridge, on their way to heaven.
The second bridge connects two shores and, as we see, is made of butterflies. It can also be called a “rainbow bridge”. It is known that the colors of the rainbow appear when the sunlight is refracted while penetrating the scales of the butterfly wings. Butterflies, as an emblematic symbol of the human soul, can be seen in different parts of the World. Jesus Christ holding the butterfly in his palm symbolizes the resurrection.
The worker bees definitely took a big part in the construction of the magic Bridge.
Symbolism of the images in the painting:
Worker Bees: Symbol of hard work. It is known that the hexagon shape of the cells is determined by minimalizing the wax material spent. Honey is always sweeter on the other side.
Sky: The curtain of heaven, which moves, revealing the miracles on the Earthly stage. Caterpillar on tracks and the Beecycle: Symbolizes the slow-paced movement and a fast ride.
Bridge: Connects the two shores or two notions, standing apart from each other. Metaphor is also a bridge…
Butterfly: The symbol of beauty and free flight (the trajectory of its flight could not be figured by scientists).
Bridge of Butterflies: Connects two contradicting notions: free flight and bonding to the Earth. The beauty can connect things, seemingly far off from each other, at first glance.
By VLADIMIR KUSH
Flickering candlelight is a world culture symbol of faith and hope. It also represents the light of human mind flashing in the darkness of surrounding ignorance (think of the French Enlightenment figures Diderot and Voltaire).
The well-known expression “hope springs eternal” can be associated with the flame of a candle – we find this symbolic connection between the flickering candlelight and the hope of salvation in a raging sea expressed in an early painting by the artist To the Safe Haven
The Rose girl waiting for her sweetheart in the Daisy Games: the light of the small candle nearby speaks of the tentative hope that her feelings will be reciprocated. Any minute a light ‘breeze of indifference’ can extinguish this newly arisen and tenderly glowing flame of love.
The candle in this painting is the ‘light of reason’ coming from someone in their good old years continuing to enlighten the younger generation. As the poet said: “Shine all the time, forever shine, the last days’ depths to plumb…So runs my slogan – and the sun's!” (Vladimir Mayakovsky)