John’s Christmas story contains no scary angels or shaking shepherds, no Magi bearing gifts, no star guiding their way. There’s no Mary or Joseph, no lowing cattle or humble manger. There’s not even a baby Jesus. For John, Christmas begins all the way back at the beginning itself. “In the beginning was the Word,” John declares, intentionally echoing the first syllables of creation.
In the foreground of Eugène Delacroix’s classic The Entombment of Christ is a poignant image of the disciple John sitting, bent forward, contemplating the crown of thorns. By painting John and the crown alone, Ebenezer Sunder Singh shines a spotlight on this pregnant moment, offering a chance to ponder the wisdom of God which seems like folly to human beings. “The image of the thorn crown is a recurring phenomenon in my works over many years,” says the artist. “I use it as a compulsive pictorial symbol, and at the same time I revere it as the symbol of pain, shame and hope. I think John in Delacroix’s painting knows this secret, so he is contemplating this symbol of recreation and regeneration.” Singh’s work is shown frequently in galleries in the U.S. and India.