Judas the destiny


Traditionally Judas has been depicted exclusively as a villain, although some commentators – from the Cainites to Gnosticism, from Albert Réville to Jorge Luis Borges – have offered a variety of different, sometimes conflicting interpretations. In this composition Judas is not “an extreme evil” spotlighting, by contrast, the light of truth and benevolence emanating from Christ, but a suffering person shouldering the burden of predestination (treachery) necessary for Christ’s redemptive sacrifice. The sitting Judas with his big hands, bare feet and rough-looking head with longish hair looks more like a God’s fool in front of a church, and the pieces of silver ostentatiously displayed in his open palm appear to prove that the presumed benefit is out of proportion with the enormity of what he has done. The questioning look on Judas’s face turned up to the Heaven speaks of an unabating inner conflict between the opposite extremes of his character – that of the favourite pupil and a base traitor. Under the weight of this burden Judas bends over, clings to the ground, and presses himself into the soil. The uneven, breathing modelling conveys the awe, the emotional trembling on the verge of nervous breakdown, while the drapes envelop his body and sprawled feet, forming worried folds. The delicately-coloured terracotta produces the sensation of a breathless silence similar to a prolonged pause after a difficult question and echoes the overall bleak mood. The statue’s small size does not prevent the artist from making a moderate but eloquent statement on a complicated issue of universal importance.

 

Brief annotations to the image

JUDAS ISCARIOT, who betrayed Jesus, was one of the 12 apostles. A large body of exegetical, apocryphal, fiction, scholarly and pop science literature has addressed “Judas’s mystery”, the paradox of his story as related in the Gospels. On the one hand, he is a traitor, apostate, evil incarnate, an instrument of Satan, on the other, an elect strangely close to Jesus, who adores Jesus so much that even Jesus’s arrest shatters him, who takes his life even before the execution of Christ and who in fact contributes to the posthumous glory and greatness of the Teacher.