FOR TIME IS NEAR
Artist report by Flox den Hartog Jager, NL
Sea of sulpher (detail), © Flox den Hartog Jager
ETN member Flox den Hartog Jager, NL is a Dutch textile artist. In her report on her work cycle, which deals with the apocalypse, she talks about her inspiration, her way of working and gives us an insight into her world:
FOR TIME IS NEAR
I, Johannes, was on the island called Patmos….
and I heard a loud voice behind me, like a trumpet saying,
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last;
and what you see, write it down in a book,
and send it to the seven churches that are in Asia,
to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Tyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
And I turned around to see who had talked to me
and then in the midst of seven golden candlesticks I saw someone who looked like the Son of man,
He was wearing a long robe to the feet, girded with a golden girdle.
And He had seven stars in His right hand;
and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword;
and his face was like the sun as it shines in its power.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet;
and He put His right hand on me and said,
Do not fear; I am the First and the Last ...
Write down what you saw, and what is, and what will happen after this.
So or nearly so starts the Apocalypse of John of Patmos, which is the inspiration for these works.
The book Apocalyps is not easy to read at all and I have often thought "what kind of mushrooms did this John eat". Reading about the Apocalypse made me understand that contemporaries were better at handling the text. There were more Apocalyptic books in both the Jewish and Christian tradition. These all have the same pattern, which is why contemporaries were better equipped to make sense of the many images, secrets and strange events. However, the pattern of the story has become clear to me after studying, and perhaps that is more important than the literal text. At least that works for me.
The word "apocalypse" is derived from the Greek word Ἀποκάλυψις, which literally means lifting the veil or "revelation". It is a prediction of what will happen at the end of time, prior to the coming of the New Jerusalem. For it is certain that a new Jerusalem will come. The question is whether that will be an earthly or an heavenly Jerusalem and more importantly perhaps whether it is a new beginning, after which the circle of time will start again or whether it is about achieving a perfect state at the end of time. - The Jews are the first people with a linear time with a beginning and an end. To the peoples before time was always circular, the end was always a new beginning like the seasons returning. The Apocalypse is not only important to believers, because it has been a source of inspiration in many utopian movements up to Marxism in a secularized form.
All apocalyptic books have the same pattern: before the start of the new in the form of Heavenly Jerusalem, a Catharsis is needed. A great cleansing of everything that went wrong in Creation. This Catharsis is very violent: famine, plagues, oppression and disasters come over the earth. Its vehemence stems from the fact that it is a earthly continuation of the heavenly battle between God and Satan. Satan - The Great Red Dragon - is exiled to Earth and starts a war with the elect. Despite the catastrophes that have taking place, it is predicted that the Good or God will finally overcome, the faithful will be spared and a new Jerusalem founded. It is precisely this message that John must send to the seven congregations: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Tyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodiceia.
The story is very graphic: it tells of grasshoppers as horses so big, with women's hair and a lion's head, about devils and angels, the four horsemen, a battle of the angel Michael and the dragon, the whore of Babylon, the Anti-Christ, the lamb, the 144,000, the seventh seal, and a woman sitting on a beast with seven heads. Such beautiful images do not really need a coherent story to clarify them. They also speak independently. And that is pleasant for the artist, who cannot understand the words very well, but in whose head the images linger.
These images speak all the more through the illustrations made by the Spanish monk Beatus at the Apocalypse. Created in the 8th century AD, these illustrations are primitive, but at the same time very decorative. They are moving by the fact that the illustrator knew so little about the anatomy of man. During the Middle Ages, about twenty copies were made of the Apocalypse of Beatus. The illustrations in these copies go back to the 8th century illustrations by Beatus. But you can see that the drawings become more refined over time.
These images haunted my dreams and have been the inspiration for my work.
Working on the Apocalypse from 2014 onwards coincided with the violent world IS brought into being, merging my personal themes with the unfolding history of the here and now. The Corona pandemic brought a renewed urgency to the stories and the images.
The material I work with is textile. My work consists of several layers and is created in a process of dyeing and printing, cutting, joining and editing with hand embroidered stitches. It can rightfully be called slow art. It takes time to make, time in which you can rethink the images of the Apocalypse and the work that you are creating inspired by the ancient book.
Flox den Hartog Jager
Zeist, the Netherlands
More information on the work of Flox den Hartog Jager can be found on www.floxdenhartogjager.nl and https://www.textileartist.org/flox-den-hartog-jager-angels-and-demons-in-stitch-and-print
Efese (detail), © Flox den Hartog Jager
Seven to Twelve, © Flox den Hartog Jager
Their king the angel of the depth, © Flox den Hartog Jager
The devil, the beast and the phalse prophet, © Flox den Hartog Jager
Loadicea, © Flox den Hartog Jager
Death and his shadow, © Flox den Hartog Jager
Pergamum, © Flox den Hartog Jager
Son of Man, © Flox den Hartog Jager