Nicholas Baxter

The Inquisition

Painting #11 from The Apostasy series, finished a few weeks ago:

“The Inquisition”, oil on panel, 12 x 12in, 2012

I wrote about some of the aesthetic decisions made during the painting process here.

Regarding symbolism, this piece–along with “First Judgement”–deal with gender and the genesis of personal identity. For all domesticated humans born in hospitals, there is no escaping this moment of truth, which begins a lifelong process of psychological conditioning by the all-seeing eye of culture.

To be binary: male or female. Gender assigned and reinforced. A life indoctrinated, molded.

An inquisition of the vulnerable by archetypes of power, the first judgement (literally) marks the first loss of innocence, the beginning of a differentiation between self and other that many spend a lifetime trying to erase, or simply comprehend.

And what of the uncertain ones? The ambiguous? Born damaged or incomplete? What happens when the wrong judgement is handed down? What happens when the gender binary facade is shattered at birth…when the entire construct collapses later in life?  When we get sick of playing our roles? Get sick of enforcing the roles on others?

Who do we find at all, when we question who we are underneath all that we cling to?

“First Judgement”, oil on panel, 12 x 12in, 2012