Revelation 18. Oil on canvas on aluminum composite panel, 18 by 36 inches, unframed. Completed January 2022.
Revelation 18 describes the fall of Babylon, the great city. In verse 4 a voice is heard from heaven, saying: "Get out, my people, as fast as you can, so you don't get mixed up in her sins, so you don't get caught in her doom." (MSG). The question the painting addresses is: Who are My People? What does getting out look like?
As the painting progressed, the real villians of the story emerged; the emporoi, the merchants of the earth, the ones who will do anything for a buck. They are mentioned four times in the chapter, more than any other people group. They grew rich from the great city's sensuality and excesses. They stand far off, mourning because no one buys their cargo anymore. They were the nobility of the earth, deceiving all the nations with their sorcery. They are the ones responsible for the great city's fall. And, as the picture tells us, they have no intention of just letting My People go.
For their part, My People are realizing that the emporoi no longer have power over them, perhaps they never did. As the great city burns, all those carefully crafted binding documents with their restrictive covenants have become just so much ash, drifting down out of the darkened sky. The emblem on the jacket of the main emporoi is a merchant mark, one used by the Dutch East Indies Company during the time of the slave trade.