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Schoenberg at Sinai

Moses at Sinai.JPG

Acrylic on paper, 26.5 x 36.5 cm. 2022. SOLD

This painting was inspired by the opera 'Moses und Aron' by modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg. In Schoenberg's biblical narrative, Moses is tasked with communicating his divine inspiration to the Israelites. Unable to satisfy their need for a tangible, comprehensible deity to idolise, Moses ascends Mount Sinai to formulate the Tablets of the Laws (in the context of the opera, an abortive attempt to provide the people with concrete guidance, which he later smashes, in despair over the impotence of mere words).


The mountain represents the incommunicability of Moses' inspiration, the barrier which isolates him from the audience he is required to reach. No doubt Schoenberg saw this as an apt metaphor for the public reaction to his own music, which was (and still is) widely regarded as excessively abstract and difficult. This thoroughly overwrought painting is supposed to evoke the forbidding, impassable, solitary heights to which the inspired Moses-Schoenberg is compelled to ascend.

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