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Still Life (Pieta), 2007 by Sam Jinks
Still Life (Pieta), 2007 by Sam Jinks

‘Beauty and goodness, And Grief and pity, alive in the dead marble, Do not, as you do, weep so loudly, Lest before time he should awake form death, In spite of himself...’

Giovan Battista Strozzi il Vecchio’s poem on Michelangelo’s Pietà at St Peter’s Basilica quoted in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists 1550

In Western religious art a Pietà, also called a ‘lamentation’, is an image of the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Christ. Jinks’ Pietà also references the Buddhist meditation practice of visualising the decay of one’s own body as a means of bringing the mind to terms with the body’s inevitable end. Jinks contemplates the limits of humanism and secularism. He reflects on Michelangelo’s Pietà at St Peter’s Basilica:

as a comfort to people of faith, a practical image for coping with life’s suffering. How do you make an image now that gives comfort in this way? I made Pietà at the same time as my grandmother was dying. She was someone I had grown up with and was close to. I don’t have the luxury of believing.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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