Conference of the Birds II (2012)
Click the thumbnails to see a larger version of the painting.
Conference of the Birds II is based in the 13th century mystical treatise, Conference of the Birds, by Farid ad-Din Attar. In this work, Attar explores the mystic quest, utilizing an allegory of a "conference of the birds" who set off on a hazardous and terrifying journey through valleys and mountains, to meet the "simurgh," or the divine ground of all being. In the end, only 30 featherless companions arrive, and lose themselves in contemplation of perfection.
This piece concerns the journey, not the consummation of the quest. Mystical realization is, I believe, a goal accessed by only a very few, if by any -- that which should concern the rest of us is the journey of life. What does it mean? And how do we live here together? The imagery in the piece has been inspired by the Flemish painters, Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel, whose paintings captured the totality of human interaction with the world around them -- the vast majority of Attar's "birds" who never arrive at the end of their quest, but most certainly die trying!