cave cave deus videt


I’ve been working on a series of paintings based on the Seven Deadly Sins for some years now.  The project began as an idea to put a show together with two photographers I know, and this was the theme we eventually decided to use to tie our work together, however loosely.  At that time I had begun painting a lot of fruit, mostly falling through or floating in dramatic skies, and one of the photographers teased me about using fruit for the Sins paintings.  We all laughed but I took it pretty seriously and in fact that is what I did:  interpreted the 7 Deadlies using fruit.

The series is still not entirely finished, as I keep showing and selling pieces of it, and in one commission painted all Seven for a client.  So I have and I haven’t finished it… one day I would like to have seven large canvases (possibly more) and set up a show in one of the many dungeon-like venues around here.  I would also like to include some multi-media pieces in this show, possibly some type of installation, definitely music and film, some interactive stuff.  The whole event just keeps growing in my mind, as these things do.

Many artists have used these themes in their work, from Bosch to William Burroughs.

Seven Deadly Sins, Bosch

The idea of “sin”:  the forbidden, the outlaw, the dark side, appeals to artists in every medium, possibly because we crawl around in the underbelly of society a great deal.  I have read that the reason these Seven were defined as Capital or Mortal sins is because each one can lead to other sins or vices–they’re sins as well as sin-generators.  This is certainly true of Greed, which can lead to Envy and Lust and of course Pride.  They’re all linked in a sort of narcissistic web of asocial behaviour patterns, and at the same time each is deliciously tempting.  Dante’s Inferno is probably the most comprehensive poetic document describing these Seven and their mind-boggling punishments in Hell, and is well worth a read.

I may write more about the intellectual/emotional side of this exercise at a later date, but for the moment here are the paintings I did on commission.  They’re all oil on paper, more in the nature of studies than final works;  Anger in particular I have very different ideas about now, but that’s why we do “studies”, after all.

Greed (yum yum) © B. Sutton

Lust © B. Sutton

Gluttony © B. Sutton

Anger/Wrath © B. Sutton

Pride © B. Sutton

Sloth ©B. Sutton


Envy (in the morning) © B. Sutton


5 Responses to “cave cave deus videt”

  1. rivercook said

    These are luscious. In some cases they are more like ‘demented fruit’ than symbols of so-called sins. If I had to pick a favorite it would be pride, but I’d like to see that strawberry a little more red and juicy and almost bursting. Envy seems the most pleasing but looks more like testicles so I was looking for the sex organ…ha-ha…rather than the green fruit (unidentifiable…apple?) on the lower branch. Greed is probably the most animated and the only one with an anthropomorphic add-on so it veers from the others because of that. Gluttony might be the most subtle and understated and amusing in effect. Anger does it for sure and makes me wonder how you would reboot it. Sloth might be my least favorite as it looks like a mousetato, and well I was wrong, as there is that anthropomorphic eye. Of course the Eastern religions capture all this with: passion, aggression and ignorance and those might be incorporated as well. This just from the top of my head this, not too early, morning in July. I’m so glad you are doing this series, as they do look like fun. One of these I might even get to see them in person. love to you, PH

    • dart said

      Mousetato. Can I use that? heh. These are very fun to paint, sometimes–Anger was very hard for me, and not surprisingly it’s a personal trait I have battled (angrily) all of my life. I have other ideas for it. These photos don’t do the work any favours, I have some tweaked ones where I fixed saturation etc and need to replace these with those… the largest of these is about 40×50 cms, they’re quite small. I’d like to do more of the anthropomorphic stuff if I can do it w/o getting too cute. That Greed one actually repels some people, they can’t look at it. I would also like to add some sins of my own, ignorance being one, hypocrisy another. I like Gandhi’s sins (eg wealth w/o work, science w/o humanity etc). I’ll post some of the canvases I’ve done, too, one of these days… xx

  2. gigi said

    i appreciate this series. i even received an epiphany for my own life while viewing envy. i think the voluptuous golden pears entwined together (with their fabulous little asses) and the lone plain round (green) apple in the shadows is a brilliant rendering of the feeling. something i’ve been feeling but couldn’t quite put my finger on it until i saw this. it’s a horrible place to be but once identified, can be dealt with. thankyou 🙂
    i think the pride one is magnificent and know that red is very hard to show on screen. i often bring down the saturation on my reds. i bet it’s radiant in real life.
    i thought the sloth was disturbing as it should be, as it is hard to disturb a sloth. and the anger is harsh and sad to me. thankyou for sharing them. i’m so ‘proud ‘ of you . xxoo

    • dart said

      I am repainting the Pride one, in a larger format. I have plans for it. I think it’s interesting that in the early days of defining the mortal sins, “sloth” was actually despair or melancholy, “acedia” it was called. Might be amusing to interpret it that way rather than the more protestant feeling of laziness-as-sin. I was originally going to use a banana for this one, but any way I looked at it a banana just wasn’t doing it for me. heh. glad you like them… xxx

      • gigi said

        in my own experience, slothfulness causes despair and vice versa. i think that it is deadly when we stay there. self pity is a disaster. it can even be an addiction.
        a banana is a banana is a banana. i laugh. xo

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