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The Kairos Stones
Oil on birch
18 x 40 x 2 inches
Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City
Sophia and her Arabian horse travel through time in this painting. Here, gravity is partially suspended and megaliths float. Time is paused; the past, present, and future are unified.
I was inspired by the Callanish Stone Circle located on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, erected in the Neolithic era (5,000 years ago). Scholars theorize that the standing rocks served as an ancient lunar observatory and place for ritual activity. Throughout history, megaliths and cairns (rock piles) marked sacred places and events. From many examples in the Old Testament of the Bible, the Hebrew prophet Samuel established an Ebenezer (“stones of help”) as a reminder of the Lord’s favour.
In the pre-modern era, such as the medieval age, time was apprehended as multi-dimensional. A greater emphasis was placed on sacred days within the liturgical calendar, distinguishing this as holy “higher time” from the profane “ordinary time.” Ancient peoples expressed their connection to the land –– ecological wisdom –– through celebrations such as the winter and summer solstice, equinox, new moons, harvest time, and sabbaths.
The floating megaliths in my painting symbolize these “higher times” where sacred events are often re-enacted and time stands still momentarily. A modern analogy is how black holes produce a “time warp,” bending and flattening time and space. According to Philosopher Charles Taylor, a casualty of our secular age is that time has been dis-enchanted and made purely “horizontal” (e.g. secularizing holidays); we no longer embrace the “vertical” dimension of higher times [i]. In Greek antiquity, there was a distinction made between kronos (linear time) and kairos (decisive moment in time). In the New Testament, kairos applies to the eternal realm we experience in ‘the fullness of time’ when God breaks into the profane and brings about a sacred moment [ii]. In essence, a kairos moment is when past, present, and future become one; a holy singularity.
Among varying theories on the meaning behind the Celtic triskelion emblem (located on the left foreground rock), it is generally believed that the triadic spirals represent past, present, and future, as well as the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is apropos to my kairos theme.
As I am becoming aware of the ways in which secularism has shaped me, I see the crucial need for re-enchanting time in order to become fully human –– being in tune with nature and my Creator, for whom a thousand years is like a day.
[i] Taylor, A Secular Age. 57, 195.
[ii] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 3. 455-461.
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.