The Demon of Noonday, also know as accidie, is a spiritual and psychological phenomenon identified by early Christian mystics who sought solitude in the Egyptian desert. They commonly experienced a sense of emptiness, hopelessness and torpor which they realised was a normal part of our human condition when we seek to deepen our spiritual life. It is a moment that provokes the question, ‘What is the point?’.
This painting explores that experience and draws on a poem by my friend Ian Adams, who’s work I highly recommend, about one of those ancient desert mystics called Abba Joseph:
Abba Joseph in the Desert
Stumbling through a scorched stream-bed
a black-clad figure, spirit-led
descends once more into arid accidie
where dreams fall away from unsteady feet
thoughts spike the soul’s soft skin
and promises circle those who break them.
The Abba stops. Stands, arms outstretched.
In the wind-silence of the desert,
ever higher in the sky the sun’s
searing focus is now on this one man
consumed by the fire – a lens
through whom you too may burst into flame.
Ian Adams from ‘Unfurling’ (Canterbury Press)
Noonday Demon Oil on canvas 92cmx115cm
The painting is on display in the “What is the Point?” exhibition until 15th October at the Strand Gallery, London
For enquiries about the painting email email@example.com