From the installation:
On Form and Fiction
Sad Dirty Little Angel
Acrylic and ink on paper
Created 1989 – 1990
This work is currently in storage at the National Gallery of Scotland having first been exhibited at The Third Eye Centre, Glasgow (currently the CCA) and most recently as part of Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland.
The image I have selected is a personal favourite titled: Sad Dirty Little Angel. It is was one of the large acrylic works which rest against a backdrop of ink drawings on various subjects, which were of great interest to Steven while he was making the installation. These range from:
– The films of Tarkovsky most especially Mirror
– The architecture of Claude Nicolas Ledoux
– The writings and drawings of John Ruskin
– Cezanne’s Provençal landscape
– Chippendale furniture
Countless more associations are to be found by the viewer of the Installation, images of which can be found on the National Gallery’s website.
The painting shows a descending figure, more demon-like in appearance than Angel, but Steven tried to show its humanity and remorse with the hand raised to the face in a gesture of contrition while accentuating the idea of Lucifer’s fall from Heaven.
Lucifer whose name means Star of the Morning, had a high ranking position in the Angelic Host and was called ‘The Guardian Cherub’:
“So I drove you in disgrace from the Mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendour. So I threw you to earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings” (Ezekiel 28)
The figure falls to earth in front of classical buildings drawn from influences of Ledoux’s architecture and reminiscent of renaissance Italy, a country held dear to all our hearts.
I spoke at the beginning of my love for this image. I have always been drawn to the poetic side of Steven’s works, which in their complexity of imagery and cultural reference offer so many paths of interpretation to the viewer. For me it is the mix of longing and regret that hold great sway and touch upon what makes us human.