Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God - Art Review

Photo of Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God, by Jack Baumgartner, ©2009
Courtesy of the artist, Jack Baumgartner

To see more of Jack Baumgartner’s work visit his Web site here:

Jack Baumgartner - Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God, 2009
Art Review by Robbie Pruitt, © September 2011

Jack Baumgartner's Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God is a compelling work of art that draws the viewer in. There is an enticing motion that circles about in the way this lithograph is constructed. We can see the movement and can almost feel it. The wrestling match is in full swing and we get a glimpse into the scene as hands from either side draw back the curtain revealing the wrestler and his God. One of the hands point to what is transpiring before us as the curtain is held. It is as if the author of scripture is opening up this time and place to us. We are not just watching the wrestling match; however, we also see a reminder of God’s other dealings with Jacob in the ladders that are crisscrossing the rear of the scene. In the ladders we get a flashback to Jacob’s dream of the ladder bridging heaven and earth, and a foreshadowing the cross, our Jacob’s ladder. A closer look also reveals God’s grip on Jacob’s ankle. God has placed His grip on Jacob’s wound. Jacob has been grasping for blessing and identity ever since he grabbed his brother Esau’s ankle from their mother’s womb. Now, God pulls Jacob back by his ankle in a twist of fate and forces his knee to bow at His presence and at the stone Bethel, the house of God. It is as if God desires to go before Jacob to affirm a new identity in God’s own self. As for us, we never see the end of the wrestling match in Baumgartner’s work. What we do see is movement that is almost perpetual, as if wrestling matches with God and man never end. Jack Baumgartner captures movement, beauty, and the narrative of scripture in his work. He does the scriptures justice and helps them come alive.

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