Madonna of Dark Matter

On April 28, 2013, in Art, by NC

Madonna of Dark Matter
36″ x 48″
Acrylic on Canvas

This painting explores the concept of Dark Matter. Dark Matter (and Dark Energy) are yet unproven scientific theories which help explain the 80% of our universe which we cannot see. While Dark Matter and Dark Energy are invisible to us, we can detect their existence from the effects of their gravity.  I find the various theories about Dark Matter interesting and sometimes ridiculous.  The reality is that nobody knows what it is.

I like to think that whatever Dark Matter is, its heavy.  It could also exist in another dimension – hidden in the folds of our “normal” space/time.  It probably follows the same general “rules” which other matter does,  but we should be careful not to assume too much.

With these notions in mind I created this Madonna icon with deep, draping folds which cradle a heavy object.  The object is my representation of Dark Matter as a particle, modeled on an armillary.  Armillary spheres were used in antiquity to model the heavens and the movements of planets, constellations, etc.  They were fantastic pieces of technology for their time, however, as geo-centric models they created a reality based on belief, not fact.  Galileo’s story comes to mind.

I use the armillary as a cautionary metaphor to remind us that theories often describe ourselves more than reality.

The painting itself is very dark, created with deep glazed hues of metallic blue contrasted with copper, silver, 24k gold, and black metal flake.  The use of metallic colors and under-bases means that this painting changes depending on the angle at which its viewed. The smooth glazing of the figure is further accentuated by a richly textured background.

This painting’s blue color is about the exact opposite of the fluorescent orange hues used in the Madonna of the Particle.  However, the sister-paintings share the same common geometry, ratios, and curves found in sub-atomic particle collisions as well as our larger universe.

Chris Shaw
April 2013

The Madonna of Dark Matter and other work by Chris Shaw, currently on exhibit at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Caffe Museo, until June 2013.  151 Third St., San Francisco, Ca.  Open everyday except Wednesdays.  Cafe exhibit is free.

Dark Matter by Chris Shaw, 2013

Chris Shaw Dark Matter layout

Armillary Sphere


5 Responses to Madonna of Dark Matter

  1. Paula Smith-Marder says:

    I have a question for Chris Shaw. Is The Madonna of Dark Matter based upon a classical work of art? It is beautiful and provocative.

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