Jeff Gagliardi

The Annunciation

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” —Luke 1:46-49

Inspired by many Renaissance works on the subject, this painting displays a variety of styles from Byzantine
iconography to modern abstraction. It is a depiction of the moment Mary receives the news that she will bear the Christ child. Light rays gently descend past her left ear from a sky-field of fleurs-de-lis, which represent the Holy Trinity and symbolize fidelity, promise, and purity.

With her ear she hears and accepts the Holy Spirit. With her left hand she expresses humility, as in “How will this be?” And it is at this moment she is also opening her right hand in acceptance; “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Her gaze is focused downward to her womb. She is already with child.

Oil on Canvas | 40 x 32 IN | $3800
Jeff Gagliardi

The Release

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come...He will come and save you.” —Isaiah 35:3,4

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” —Genesis 1:2 2

Contrary to the sentimental images which we’ve all been accustomed to seeing, I see the Christmas story as an invasion. The Incarnation is essentially a rescue mission. God’s plan is not to just affect the world’s events but to become part of his creation. In essence he is performing one more act of creation left over from Genesis—creating himself into our world. Over and through the face of the deep darkness that shrouds our existence he is about to join us as one of us. And that requires unimaginable release on his part. A ‘letting go’ unparalleled in our experience or imaginations. This imagery is of the light breaking into the darkness, the release of grace and mercy as distinct as the darkness is from light. It required Christ’s “equality with God not to be held, but let go—emptied...being born in the likeness of human beings” —Philippians 2.

The Creator lets go, releasing himself into our world. The image of the fleur-de-lis represents his triune nature and his attributes—fidelity, perfection, promise—while its manifestation into the darkness of the waters is an image of the cross. The cross being the ultimate symbol of that great release.

Oil on PANEL | 14.25 x 9.5 IN | 1 of 5, $1500 for set
Jeff Gagliardi

The Rescue

“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who
are bowed down...”
—Psalm 146:7-8

The prisoner recognizes the cross for what it is—his
redemption. There is only one positive response which is to say ‘yes’. The chains are broken. These hands mirror the hands in the previous image of ‘The Release’ by reaching upward toward the life-giving light; “Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.” —Psalm 85:11.

The background symbolic imagery is the Awohodie, the Adinkra symbolizing freedom and emancipation. The direction moves both downward and upward. The broken chains and the hands of the prisoner represent deliverance while the candles represent the great sea of
humanity. Some are being ignited by the light which is penetrating the darkness. This is the purpose for which they were created and the contagion of light begins to spread.“...the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; —Romans 13:12

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
—John 1:4,5

Oil on PANEL | 14.25 x 9.5 IN | 2 of 5, $1500 for set
Jeff Gagliardi

The Reconciliation

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” —John 1:14

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (God with us)” —Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23

The main image is familiar; the babe in the manger, so meek, so vulnerable. Beyond humble, he lays in a feeding trough.

The ‘Release’ is manifested and the imagery of the Fleur di Lis and the cross are now seen as a star which will guide those who are open and wise.

The Adinkras in the background are the Mpatapo (Reconciliation), Nyame Nti (By God’s Grace) and the upraised right arm and hand of the Christ child is shadowed behind by the Gye Nyame (The Supremacy of God).

The upraised right arm and hand also foreshadows another image—that of the ‘Return’—where Christ’s right arm is symbolic of both redemption and judgment. That image is appropriated from the famous image of Michelangelo’s 'The Last Judgment'.

The helpless baby in the trough is nonetheless The King of Kings. “Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” —Isaiah 53:1

Oil on PANEL | 14.25 x 9.5 IN | 3 of 5, $1500 for set
Jeff Gagliardi

The Reign

This familiar image of Christ is from the early Christian church. One of the highest purposes of visual art, the Orthodox Church’s use of icons is a representation to assist in worship and focus on divine things.

This image is of the resurrected Christ, seated at the right hand of the Father, he is surrounded by the symbols which define his eternal reign. His right hand raised in blessing, he is surrounded by Fleurs di Lis symbolizing the Trinity and the Host of Heaven. The Adinkra symbols of Reconciliation, God’s Grace, Emancipation, and Supremacy are among the many that crown His Glory.

“...and on his head are many crowns.” —Revelation 19:12

“In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.” —Isaiah 11:10

Oil on PANEL | 14.25 x 9.5 IN | 4 of 5, $1500 for set
Jeff Gagliardi

The Return

“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” —Exodus 6:6

The main visual theme is lifted from the famous image of Michelangelo’s 'The Last Judgment'. In it, Christ has returned and brings with him the final redemption of those ‘found in him’. These are represented by the lit candles who rise up to meet him and are fully transformed (“...we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” —1 John 3:2)

This transformation is represented by myriads of
fleurs-di-lis which are the Host of Heaven. Those made righteous in Christ are they who have said to him “Yes, Thy will be done.” To his left and below are those who have had no desire for him despite His many providences. These are the ‘unlit’ candles—those who say no to Christ and to whom Christ finally says “Thy will be done.” Subtly in the background is the Adinkra symbol Gye Nyame—The supremacy of God. The return of Christ will be the most wonderful and yet terrifying event humankind will ever see. The end of the world and our story as we know it. But for those in Christ it is the first page of the first chapter of the everlasting story.

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he
will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with
unquenchable fire.”
—Matthew 3:12

Oil on PANEL | 14.25 x 9.5 IN | 5 of 5, $1500 for set

About the Artist

JEFF GAGLIARDI is of the opinion the term “Christian Art” is misplaced. There really isn’t art that’s not Christian! Creativity is a wonderful — even scared—gift. Whether aware of it or not, when we engage in creativity we are in a very special relationship with God and reflect something of the Creator himself. Even if the art is dark, angry or what would be seen as vulgar or obscene, it still expresses something of our condition as humans and ultimately becomes part of the great drama of life. God is not surprised by it and has endowed us with the gifts for the purpose of using them. Creating visual art and playing music are a sacred time for to Jeff. He asks God to show him what to paint and to join him in the process. Jeff doesn't have a particular style because every painting seems to want to go its own way. He only wants it to glorify Him and spread that joy to others if he can. Making art is every bit an act of worship as any other we can conceive.

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