Artist puts political spin on religious painting

Diane Crocker
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Rodney Mercer is not flying his political colours in his latest work, but he says it is a reflection of the times.
In a painting titled “Painted With the Same Brush,” the Corner Brook  artist depicts former premiers, Kathy Dunderdale and Danny Williams, and premier-designate Frank Coleman as the holy family in homage to Raphael’s “Madonna With the Beardless Joseph.”

Rodney Mercer is the Corner Brook artist of this work, “Painted With the Same Brush.”  
— Submitted photo

Dunderdale in the Madonna role holds Williams, as the infant Christ figure, with Coleman, as the beardless Joseph, alongside.

“In genre painting, the Christ figure is often seen as part of the Trinity, past, present and future,” Mercer said. “The narrative in the painting, I think, is something most viewers are going to get.

“We would hope that we live in what is called a democracy. Where our leaders are chosen ... and our leaders share the majority of our opinion.”

But Mercer said he and others don’t think that’s actually the case now.

“Some people feel like even though some people aren’t in power, they kind of are,” he said.

He said he’s heard of a discontent with the way things are happening.

“There are people who have been longtime supporters of their party who are not happy campers. They’re just not,” Mercer said.

He said when people see the painting, the thing he hears the most is, “I hit the nail right on the head.”

Speaking out publicly is not something the quiet artist normally does.

“I speak in pictures and I think in pictures. There’s a lot of artworks in the past that I have thought about doing that I didn’t do and I always regretted it,” he said.

“So when I get a work and I think it’s strong, as long as there’s content there, you know. You can have a picture or anything or a sculpture or whatever, you have your form, but you have to have content there as well as a reflection of the time and the people.”

This work, which took him about two weeks to complete, follows another politically inspired work, a seal skin portrait of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“Painted With the Same Brush” is currently on display at Mercer’s studio at JL Gallery on Broadway, but it will soon be making its way to Rocky Harbour where it will be part of an exhibition of his work at Urve Manuel’s Glass Gallery and Studio.

The Western Star

Organizations: JL Gallery on Broadway

Geographic location: Rocky Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Herb Morrison
    May 25, 2014 - 19:52

    I am a Christian and speaking from that perspective, as the young people say, I think this painting rocks. Love it.

  • Anna
    May 25, 2014 - 15:27

    Well at least he is not afraid to paint what any intelligent person is thinking. This is indeed a reflection of the time and the person who is still running this Province. I don't for one minute believe that this is disrespect for any religion and I'm thankful that Mr. Mercer can paint this for all to see.

  • Observer
    May 25, 2014 - 14:57

    The dumbest thing I've ever seen. Garbage, in my opinion.

  • Jay
    May 24, 2014 - 19:03

    Talk about beating a dead horse or cheap thrills. This is one of the most uninteresting, dull, unimaginative pieces of "art????" I have ever seen. The cartoonist at the Telegram shows more imagination than this.

    • Morris
      May 25, 2014 - 18:10

      NICE JOB- great painting! I'd rather be forced to sit under this painting anytime, than the statue of St. Clare , as I am required to do , when I sit in the lobby of St Clare's hospital! There has to irony here somewhere , isn't St Clare the patron saint of TV or the Media!

  • Thorfinn Axelson
    May 24, 2014 - 10:41

    This is what Terrance McKenna referred to as "puttin the art pedal through the floor". Dunderdale left quoting the still-warm, dead Pete Seeger lyrics he found in the book of Psalms. Marshall quotes the old testament on the way in like some interim-Adonai. Coleman is being flashmobbed by his faith fortnightly. The State requires Faith to survive, on it's merit alone, it shrivels and dies. Danny cried bullshit, removed the flag for all to see, and cried to his public, not Our dying god on life support - Why have you forsaken me!

  • Donna Thistle
    May 24, 2014 - 08:46

    Historically, religious art has always made social comment. One only has to look at work that is 1500 years old, 1000 yrs and 500 years; there are sublet social comments in all of it. Rodney, you have joined the great Masters!

  • Respect
    May 24, 2014 - 06:43

    This is offensive and indicates nothing but hate and disrecpect against all believers. I wonder if it would be tolerated and promoted by The Telegram if it showed Muhammad or poked fun at Tom Marshall for being openly Jewish. A mockery of any God is wrong.

    • Virginia Waters
      May 25, 2014 - 12:59

      What an odd phrase - 'openly Jewish'. You do realize this is 21st century North America? The vast majority of Newfoundlanders could care less about your religious beliefs as long as them don't somehow encourage discrimination or repression of others. I suspect Tom Marshall would be the first to confirm that being Jewish has never held him back. His father might have encountered discrimination in his day simply because it was a different time, but even he succeeded in politics and was widely respected in this province and in Ottawa. Similarly, people could care less that Coleman is Catholic, or that he has strong religious beliefs. The only concern - briefly - was the prospect that those views might somehow influence government policy. He has since declared that they would not and most people are happy to take him at his word on that issue. I will give 'Respect' one thing - the Telegram probably would not have published it if it could in any way be interpreted as an affront to Muslims. But the Telegram is hardly alone in that. Western media have been made any discussion of Islam taboo since 9/11. Is that a double standard. Of course. Arguably it has done nothing but embolden the extremist elements of that culture. But you don't solve that problem by putting discussion or even criticism of all other religions off limits. Indeed it was that vey kind of mentality - the placing of religion on a pedestal and beyond question or reproach - that made possible the horrific record of abuse within Christian denominations.

    • Morris
      May 25, 2014 - 18:02

      Tom Marshal is Jewish?