Friday, May 4, 2007


I love this apocalyptic drawing by John Hendrix, one of the more distinctive voices in the field of illustration today.

In the tradition of Brueghel and Heironymous Bosch, this drawing is dense with symbols and weird iconography. Hendrix implies a larger universe of prophecy and mysticism but he knows enough to stop with mere implication. As Carl Sandburg said, poetry is "the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during that moment."

This is a smart, literate drawing, but Hendrix's graphic images are as strong as his content. He conjures up great symbols such as the train careening downhill and exploding on the bridge as the "pride of man" ( Isaiah 2:17: "The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased.")

Equally striking is Hendrix's vision of the "axe of God" (from Matthew 3:10)

This drawing has a hundred little clevernesses but like all good art it is more than the sum of its parts. Look at how the components come together for a vertiginous effect: the perspective is all askew, as the earth opens up and the tidal wave with a face rushes over the horizon and the train speeds at an odd angle into the pit. Nice job-- a drawing that makes you think. And laugh.