The Labyrinth of Knowledge or the Tree of the Knowledge (of Good and Evil)

“And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)
There’s a thin line between good and evil, extremes always reach out to each other. In the Christian theology, the Tree of Knowledge is connected to the doctrine of Original Sin (Gen 2:17 and 3:1-24). In the Book of Genesis God directly forbade Adam (before Eve has been created) to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. A serpent tempted Eve, who was aware of the prohibition against eating the forbidden fruit. The serpent had suggested to Eve that eating the fruit would bestow wisdom upon them. Eve and then Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and they became aware of their nakedness. After discovering their disobedience, God banished the couple from the garden in order to deny them access to the Tree of Life, which would have bestowed immortality onto them. God cursed both the snake and the ground, obliging Adam to survive through agriculture “by the sweat of his brow”. He told the woman that her childbirth pains would be greatly increased and that the man would rule over her. I was always preoccupied to understand why God – and later the Church – was so afraid of knowledge? Ignorance is bliss because if you don’t know something, it can’t hurt you? Or there’s something more: by getting knowledge can hurt God and the Church, at least can questioning their authority?

The other aspect is to “became aware of our nakedness”. I think is the first step to became aware of our self. It has nothing to do with nudity as later most of it interpreted. Became aware of our self is the first step to knowledge.

It’s interesting, originally the forbidden fruit seems to be Tamarind (Tamarindus indica). In the Talmud, Rabbi Meir says that the fruit was a grape, but another Talmudic tradition suggests that Eve made wine from the fruit, which she then drank, Rabbi Nechemia says that the fruit was a fig, while Rabbi Yehuda proposes that the fruit was wheat. In Western Christian art, the fruit of the tree is commonly depicted as the apple, this depiction may have originated as a Latin pun: by eating the malum (apple), Eve contracted mālum (evil).

This is my first new painting after a break of a few years and I return to this obsession of the Apple and the Tree of Knowledge. I used the apple as a symbol and I always ask myself, this apple was a red, a green or a yellow one? In many of my works the apple is present somewhere. Mostly I prefer to paint it half green, half red. This time I place it in the middle of the composition and I divided it in four parts, one of them remaining black – unknown. The way to knowledge is symbolized by those trees that looks like a labyrinth. I think there’s not one and only “truth” as there’s not one and only – right – way to the knowledge. And as many time I said, not the destination is what really matter, but the way, the experience we gain. It’s not an easy way, that’s true.

Painted on paper, acrylic colors, 40×40 cm.

Attila Brushvox: website