Paul Lisak (1967-present), ‘Judas’ Kiss’, Oil on Linen.
Instead of offering what I think are the important qualities of this painting, I want to leave its interpretation more open. Therefore I invite you to engage with this piece and share with us your thoughts about what you like or dis-like. I do this intentionally because though I find this painting moving its force is almost inexplicable for me at this point in time, though I have still tried to share some of my thoughts here.
There is something strangely unnecessary in the armed response to Jesus in this painting; he is the calm center of this piece. Yet, this is not a wholly adequate explanation; the deep sadness of betrayal, the violence of Judas’ kiss and (from a Mormon context) the pain of Jesus’ suffering have seemingly rendered the Saviour passive.
Perhaps referring to Jesus as the Saviour is not accurate for he is clearly not represented as divine; his humanity is unmistakable and insightful. It is possible that following Gethsemane Jesus was at his most human in descending below us all.
What of the armed arrest or the adolescent Judas? The anonymised police give this arrest an unsavoury feel and yet I am not entirely clear what the artist is hoping to articulate in using a contemporary context for this scene? Perhaps, Lisak is raising questions about the status of religious criminals in Western society.
Finally, though the center points of the image are the red shirt Jesus is wearing and the yellow torch one of the guards is holding, I do not feel that I can clearly express what these are doing in this image.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, for my benefit if not for yours?