Christ Before Pilate — 1991 oil on prepared paper; 30″ x 20″ – damaged in fire; private collection
The Golgotha series began as a project devoted to a particular church service––the celebration of Good Friday and reflection upon the sufferings of Christ, his passion, and his death and burial. I avoided leaping into the imagery of resurrection because it seemed too easy, too glib––and I wanted to explore the territory surrendered by by Protestants, namely the imagery of the Cross and the agony of the Savior. When I showed these works to a museum director in Boston who had asked to follow my work and potentially display it, this person said to me, “Bruce, how can you waste your time painting sincerely intended religious images in our time? Don’t you realize that this is anachronistic? No one believes these things any longer.” My response to the museum director is the same now as it was then––I do not believe that it is possible to exhaust the imagery of the Cross, nor do I think that non-ironic religious imagery is off-limits for a contemporary artist. Quite the contrary. Since much of modern and postmodern art is involved in being “transgressive” of taboos––perhaps the real taboo these days would be to make images that convey sincere religious meaning.