Analysis of Christ The Good Shepherd
The artwork portrays many colors and also includes a tapestry of patterns. Symmetrical flowers appear as a sky, or enclosing tunnel surrounding a rocky hillside where Jesus is depicted surrounded by a half dozen sheep who are all engaged in looking at Jesus. The colors are primary, with plenty of blue, green, white, brown and earthen tones present in the work. The patterns, consist of eight pronged flowers and read globes, further surrounded by a circle ring and what appears to be vines or vegetation growing from it.
The most striking colors appear as the sky and foreground colors and their patterns, which break from the realistic portrayal of shepherd and sheep.
One striking feature is that all of the sheep are gazing intensely at Jesus, who carries a cross, and has a grown halo the same color as the cross and his robe. Jesus is looking to his right and appears to be looking beyond the visible seen to something beyond it. His only interaction with the immediacy of the moment, his extended hand that is patting one of the sheep in front of him.
His stick could be taken to be a shepherd’s staff, but also interpreted to be the spiritual symbol of the cross. On the ground are stones and what appears to be a stone composed retaining wall. A few grassy plants are growing from the earth in symmetrical patterns.
The strongest feeling conveyed is that of transcendence on the part of Jesus the shepherd. The sheep around him seem to be tuned to his every action, while Jesus’s gaze is set somewhere beyond the immediacy of his surrounding. The color do a consistent job of relating a certain place, as the rocky ground, sparse vegetation, and brick wall relate what one would imagine ancient Galilee would look like.
The sheep also have a strong presence, and their regarding of Jesus give them a sense of dependence. They are looking to him for their cues, one going so far as to reach out to him and be touched. The tiled texture of the work compartmentalizes the images, making a separation between pattern and picture, but both working together to add an element to the other. The texture adds a surreal background to the realistic depiction, and the picture makes the pattern more noticeable than if it had been presented alone.
The shapes all tend towards cylindrical. From the arch framing the hillside where Jesus sits at the top, to the circles inclosing the patterns, to the curves of the sheep and the halo on Jesus’s head. The circle repetition gives the panting a feeling of softness and continuity.
I believe that the artist of this pieces is attempting to convey the duel nature of Jesus and also to depict him in his place as someone who led people through example. He is not working to gain the sheep, which represents his followers, as being influenced directly by Jesus to look to him, rather it seems inevitable and not a single sheep is doing anything but meet his gaze. It also shows Jesus being caught between two worlds, his gaze is intense looking to something beyond, something other than the here and now.
The artist of this piece has succeeded in creating something significant which reflects visually the duel nature of Jesus and his role not as powerful political leader, but as a shepherd attending to his “people” as a shepherd does his flock.
Gardener. Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Concise Western History Pg 128 Christ the Good Shepherd, Ravenna