Noli Me Tangere By: Dave Wagner

  • Details:

    • Nude, Figure, Surreal
    • GP-0001164-01
    • 72
    • 72
    • Wooden crate
    • Original One-of-a-Kind
    • Oil
    • Canvas
    • Square
    • United States
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  • Details:

    • Nude, Figure, Surreal
    • GP-0001164-01
    • 72
    • 72
    • Wooden crate
    • Original One-of-a-Kind
    • Oil
    • Canvas
    • Square
    • United States

About

Although I’m not religious, I was raised going to church and attended a Catholic High School. I love narratives and have an interest in how they are important in cultures. The way I understood the character of Mary Magdalene was that she was a prostitute who was befriended by Jesus and joined him along with his 12 Apostles. She serves as an example that nobody was beyond the love of Jesus.
But later in life I read that there’s no passage in the Bible which actually describes her as being a prostitute, but that she was deemed a whore by Pope Gregory I in 591 BCE. What the Bible does say about her is that she had seven demons excised from her by Jesus, and that she was probably mentally ill. Mary Magdalene was a pivotal person in the story of Jesus - she was there at his crucifixion, was the first person to see him when he arose from the dead, and some scholars believe she might have been his wife. I thought of how unfair this was, that she was mentally ill and because of this, she could be declared a prostitute.
So I did a painting about it. The first words Jesus said when he rose from the dead was “Noli Me Tangere,” which is Latin for “Don’t touch me”; which he said to Mary Magdalene when she rushed up to him in a panic. I painted her with red hair, which is how artist throughout the years have always painted her - we all know that red heads are trouble. The model I chose to pose as Mary has the body of a Greek statue, which I see as powerful, but she’s nude, which is vulnerable as well. She’s making the hand symbol that, in Western art, means divinity. Over her hand is a star, representing Christ. Flying off behind her are the shrouds she removed from Jesus herself. Twelve mountains are behind her, representing the twelve apostles and the clouds in the sky representing God. Part of her legend is that she made her way to Province, France, where she became a hermit who hid in some cliffs, which are over her shoulder. The title, “Noli Me Tangere,” is Latin for “Don’t Touch Me,” which is what Jesus supposedly said when she found him after he rose from the dead. It’s the title of a couple of famous works by historical painters of this scene. In this painting I’ve appropriated the title to come from her perspective of having a false narrative attached to her name.