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Oil on panel
24 inch diameter
Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City
In the biblical book of Proverbs, we find four poems dedicated to Lady Wisdom. My interest was piqued when I read in chapter eight that this mysterious figure was the artisan at the Creator’s side, personifying the wise blueprint by which the cosmos was created. We often think of wisdom as head knowledge, but in Jewish wisdom literature it is better understood as practical knowledge, extending even to botany and music. [i]
The 12th century Benedictine abbess and mystic Hildegard of Bingen lived out this embodied wisdom. With a deep respect for the Creator and creation, she was the first to study scientific natural history in Germany. [ii] Like the female artisan of Proverbs delighting in creation, Hildegard loved music and pioneered the first musical, allowing nuns under her care to perform moral plays, even letting down their hair and wearing colourful dresses.
I drew these strands of inspiration into my new muse, Sophíā (Greek for wisdom). Here she is accompanied by a Marvelous Spatuletail. This endangered hummingbird, which only lives in the Andean forest of northern Peru, dons costume-like iridescent plumage and extravagant long tail feathers tipped with purple discs. The American Bird Conservancy has partnered with local Peruvians to create the Huembo Reserve to protect this unique species.
In our modern technocratic society, both religious and secular people are prone to an “excarnate” existence, living life solely in our heads and not in our bodies, leading to an alienation from the physical world all around us. Sadly, children are largely growing up indoors on screens, and are not outside experiencing nature with their five senses––developing Nature-Deficit Disorder, as chronicled in Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods.
Throughout my painting series, Sophia’s adventures illustrate that now more than ever we must embody divine wisdom in our relations with one another and the earth.
[i] 1 Kings 4:31-34
[ii] Hildegard, Physica and Causae et Curae.
Born in 1995 in Moscow, Russia, Josh Tiessen is an international award-winning artist based near Toronto, Canada. Tiessen is best known for his hyper-surreal shaped oil paintings, which take up to 1700 hours to complete, and reflect the interaction between the natural world and human-made structures, drawing upon his studies in philosophy and theology.
As a young artist Tiessen was designated one of the world's top ten prodigy artists by Huffington Post, and the only known male art prodigy in North America by Dr. J. Ruthsatz, global prodigy expert. As a teenager he was juried in as the youngest member of International Guild of Realism among foremost realist artists from around the world, Artists for Conservation and Society of Animal Artists, elite groups of the top nature and wildlife artists worldwide. Art Renewal Center designated him Associate Living Master, and New York based gallery Jonathan LeVine Projects awarded him First Place from 2000 artists in their international competition Search for the Next Great Artist. LeVine presented the emerging artist’s debut international solo exhibition “Streams in the Wasteland” in May of 2019.
Mentored by masters like acclaimed Canadian artist Robert Bateman, Tiessen has exhibited his work since 2006 in over 100 exhibitions including the National Gallery of Canada and prominent galleries in the United States. He has sold over 150 original works and hundreds of limited edition giclée prints to private and corporate Canadian and international collectors.
Featured over 200 times in the press & media (Forbes, American Art Collector, International Artist), speaking and teaching at 60 venues, and making 90 invited art donations to charitable organizations, Tiessen established the Arts for a Change Foundation. This prolific artist has garnered over 60 awards and honours including International Guild of Realism Creative Achievement, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and Canada's Top 20 Under 20, for his artistic accomplishment and philanthropic work.